The little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata
Gal Cohen – Expert pest control consultant
The little fire ant, as her name suggests, is very “little”, only about 1.5 mm.
It’s important to get familiar with the ant in order to identify it, (you will find a guide for identifying it below), and report it, in order to be able to act accordingly against it.
It is orange-red in color, and moves relatively slower than other ants. Its sting causes a burning sensation like the sting of a jellyfish or the pain of a blister. It stings only when threatened. It weighs very little and therefore can be carried by the wind. This is also why we often hear of ants stinging in swimming pools or water parks. Gardeners working in gardens are very familiar with its sting once it’s airborne.
How does the ant reach you?
The little fire ant spreads by indirect transfer of humans purchasing flower pots, tree stumps, sacks of earth and fertilizers. It hitchhikes on these products and reaches your home yard.
The little fire ant can be defined as a “‘carnivore” due to the fact that it wipes out colonies of other ant species and eats other insects. It basically “conquers”, aggressively, every area it sets its eyes on. Because of that, there will be no insects or other arthropods present in an area infested with the little fire ant. Furthermore, it’s sting can cause blindness in cats and dogs.
So what can you do against the fire ant?
Prevention: check thoroughly the plants, flowerpots, trees, earth or fertilizers which you bring into your garden. Demand from your gardener, if you have one, to make sure he does the same. Furthermore, a simple inspection for the presence of fire ants in the yard can be performed by monitoring with wooden skewers and peanut butter.