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Pest Information

Little Fire Ant

  • Latin Name: Wasmannia auropunctata
  • Common Name: Little Fire Ant
  • Other Names: Electric ant

Pest Details

Origin:

This ant is native to Central and South America, but now is found in Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, and North America in Florida, California, and Hawaii.

Biology:

This is one of the “tramp” ant species that easily moves from place to place with infested materials, in particular in soils with plants that are imported from other regions. It was common in Florida early in the 1900’s but was minimized in importance with the use of early synthetic insecticides, such as chlorinated hydrocarbons. With the loss of most of these products as well as organophosphates the ant has re-emerged as a serious problem in Florida. They establish nests under any materials on the soil including thick vegetation, and often nest among the tight fronds of palms. They seem to do equally well in both dry and wet habitats. Colonies are relatively small with multiple queens and monomorphic workers. They commonly invade structures, particularly during rainy weather, where they feed on oils and other foods available. In nature honeydew and other sweet materials are favored.

Identification:

The ant is very small, only 1.5 mm long, and reddish to yellow brown in color. It is a 2-node ant with a well developed stinger, a pair of backward facing spines at the back of the thorax and an 11-segmented antenna with a noticeably enlarged club at the end. The head and thorax have many grooves on them running lengthwise. The two nodes differ in size and shape, with the front node much larger than the rear node and square in shape.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Elimination of nesting habitat for the ants will help prevent their presence, such as removal of unnecessary materials on the soil, removal of old logs and brush, mowing grasses to keep them short, and preventing unnecessary moisture that attracts the ants. Baits with a sugar attractant seem to be acceptable to the workers. Contact insecticides, particularly non-repellents that may offer a transfer effect in the colony can be successful.

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