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Species: Wasmannia auropunctata   (Roger, 1863) 

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See Also:

Wasmannia auropunctata_cf

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2019)

Tetramorium auropunctatum Roger, 1863a PDF: 182 (w.q.m.) CUBA. Neotropic. AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

Wheeler & Wheeler, 1954d PDF: 444 (l.); Cuezzo et al., 2015 PDF: 249 (redescription of w.q.m. and description of gynandromorph).
Combination in Ochetomyrmex: Forel, 1886b PDF: xlix; in Wasmannia: Forel, 1893j PDF: 383.
Senior synonym of Wasmannia atomum: Wheeler, 1922: 912; of Wasmannia glabra: Kempf, 1964e PDF: 66; of Wasmannia panamana: Brown, 1948d PDF: 102; of Wasmannia australis, Wasmannia laevifrons, Wasmannia nigricans, Wasmannia obscura, Wasmannia pulla, Wasmannia rugosa: Longino & Fernández, 2007: 276.


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Africa: Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
    Americas: Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, United States, Venezuela
    Europe: Spain
    Oceania: Australia, Hawaii, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands
  Biogeographic regions (According to curated Bioregion/Taxon lists):
    Afrotropical, Australasia, Nearctic, Neotropical, Oceania, Palearctic
  Native to (according to species list records):
    Neotropical bioregion

Distribution Notes:

Hawaii Island and Kauai


Natural History:

Wasmannia auropunctata is a pest ant about which much has been written (e.g., Clark et al. 1982, De Souza et al 1998, Fabres and Brown 1978, Jourdan 1997, Lubin 1984, Ulloa Chac?n and Cherix 1990, Williams 1994). The species is remarkably catholic in its habitat preference. It can be abundant in primary forest or young second growth, wet forest or dry forest, although it is perhaps most abundant in disturbed habitats. It can be an agricultural pest in many parts of the tropics because of its strong sting. 

The sting of Wasmannia is worth commenting on. These are extremely tiny ants, barely visible in the field. When I first began studying ants in Costa Rica, for a while I was puzzled about Wasmannia. By literature and reputation Wasmannia was reputed to have a terrible sting, but I had been collecting them for months in Corcovado National Park and never experienced the famous sting. Then one day I was collecting from a populous nest and some workers made it up to the soft skin of my inner forearm and began to sting. The sting was not terrible, about as bad as a fire ant (i.e., Solenopsis geminata) but inordinately strong for an ant you could barely see! I then learned that they are so small they cannot sting through the thicker skin of your hands. I subsequently learned that necks are nice places to get stung. Often when crawling through trashy second growth or Heliconia thickets my neck would start to burn. I would reach around to find the culprit and find nothing there. This was my cue that it was Wasmannia, and often a close inspection would reveal that I had brushed into a nest and workers were scattered on my head and shoulders.

Colonies are polygynous and it is never clear where colony boundaries are. Dozens of dealate queens may be found together in nests. Nests can be almost anywhere: in rolled leaves or dead sticks in the leaf litter, under stones, in rotten wood, in hollow stems suspended above the ground, in ant-plant domatia, and under epiphytes. Workers are omnivorous scavengers and predators and can rapidly recruit to food.



Introduced species


Clark, D. B., C. Guayasam’n, O. Pazmi–o, C. Donoso, and Y. P‡ez de Villac’s. 1982. The tramp ant Wasmannia auropunctata: autecology and effects on ant diversity and distribution on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. Biotropica 14:196-207.

De Souza, A. L. B., J. H. C. Delabie, and H. G. Fowler. 1998. Wasmannia spp. (Hym. Formicidae) and insect damages to cocoa in Brazilian farms. Journal of Applied Entomology 122:339-341.

Fabres, G., and W. L. Brown, Jr. 1978. The recent introduction of the pest ant Wasmannia auropunctata into New Caledonia. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 17:139-142.

Jourdan, H. 1997. Threats on Pacific islands: the spread of the tramp ant Wasmannia auropunctata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pac. Cons. Biol. 3:61-64.

Lubin, Y. D. 1984. Changes in the native fauna of the Gal‡pagos Islands following invasion by the little red fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 21:229-242.

Ulloa Chac—n, D., and D. Cherix. 1990. The little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger)(Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Pages 281-289 in R. K. Vander Meer, K. Jaffe, and A. Cedeno, editors. Applied myrmecology: a world perspective. Westview press, Boulder, CO. 741 p.

Williams, D. F., (ed.). 1994. Exotic ants. Biology, impact, and control of introduced species. Westview Press, Boulder. [Numerous articles in this book concern the biology of Wasmannia auropunctata.]

Taxonomic Treatment (provided by Plazi)

Scientific Name Status Publication Pages ModsID GoogleMaps
Wasmannia auropunctata   Wild, A. L., 2007, A catalogue of the ants of Paraguay (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 1622, pp. 1-55: 38, (download) 38 21367
Wasmannia auropunctata   Forel, A., 1893, Formicides de l'Antille St. Vincent. Récoltées par Mons. H. H. Smith., Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 1893, pp. 333-418: 383-386, (download) 383-386 3948
Wasmannia auropunctata   Forel, A., 1908, Fourmis de Costa-Rica, récoltées par M. Paul Biolley., Bulletin de la Societe Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 44, pp. 35-72: 44, (download) 44 4014
Wasmannia auropunctata   Ward, P. S., 2005, A synoptic review of the ants of California (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 936, pp. 1-68: -1, (download) -1 21008
Wasmannia auropunctata   Longino, J. T. & Fernández, F., 2007, Taxonomic review of the genus Wasmannia., Advances in ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Homage to E. O. Wilson - 50 years of contributions. (Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 80), pp. 271-289: 276-278, (download) 276-278 21284

Specimen Habitat Summary

Found most commonly in these habitats: 855 times found in mature wet forest, 533 times found in tropical rainforest, 409 times found in montane wet forest, 267 times found in ridgetop cloud forest, 264 times found in tropical moist forest, 246 times found in 2º lowland rainforest, 230 times found in 2º wet forest, 225 times found in lowland wet forest, 172 times found in lowland rainforest, 150 times found in tropical wet forest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 2531 times ex sifted leaf litter, 1358 times at bait, 178 times Hojarasca, 82 times litter, 51 times Sobre Vegetacion, 41 times sifted litter, 39 times beating vegetation, 23 times Malaise trap, 28 times ex sifted litter, 17 times leaf litter, 21 times beating veg., ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 2179 times MiniWinkler, 1355 times Baiting, 339 times Winkler, 185 times MaxiWinkler, 178 times Mini Winkler, 95 times Berlese, 73 times Malaise, 63 times search, 55 times sweeping, 36 times Fogging, 60 times Beating, ...

Elevations: collected from 1 - 2600 meters, 398 meters average

Type specimens: Lectotype of Wasmannia auropunctata obscura: casent0909212; syntype of Ochetomyrmex auropunctatus rugosus: casent0909213; syntype of Wasmannia auropunctata australis: casent0904874; syntype of Wasmannia auropunctata nigricans: casent0904872; syntype of Wasmannia auropunctata laevifrons: casent0904873; syntype of Wasmannia auropunctata pulla: casent0912543; syntype of Wasmannia glabra: casent0912542; syntype of Wasmannia sulcaticeps weiseri: casent0909217; syntype of Xiphomyrmex atomum: casent0912541; type of Wasmannia auropunctata var. obscura: focol0708, focol0065-1, focol0065-2

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