What are these ants and how do I get rid of them? (Sonja, Puerto Rico)

Dear AntAsk,
I live in Puerto Rico and am wondering about a tiny ant whose bite
continues to burn after it bites and likes to eat cotton clothing. And
scurries in and out of electronic equipment like my comptuer keyboard
and my other electronic things like the dials on my electric guitar.
They also like paper. and books - I see them outside where they like
very dry wood and leaves - and digest dry wood as well. They look just
like ants - act just like ants - How do I get rid of them as I can't
spray my equipment. and my clothes.



Dear Sonja,

Thanks for contacting AntBlog. Chances are you have one of two species: Wasmannia auropunctata or Monomorium destructor. Wasmannia workers are all the exact same size and their bodies tend to be all the same color (they can be light or dark, but it's usually one or the other). Monomorium destructor are red-brown in the front part of their bodies, and darker in the back. Their workers are different sizes: within one foraging trail, you'll often see workers that are twice as big as the smallest ones, and there will be sizes between those two. Monomorium destructor has more of a tendancy to damage clothing (like you mentioned) and electrical equipment, but both species (and many others) will nest in a variety of small containers like electrical boxes and clothing drawers.

In previous posts (click here, here, here ), we've outlined some general strategies for getting rid of ants using commercially availible poisons like Borax. I would add putting items in the freezer for 24 hours will often kill them in small electronic items (and anything else you can fit in the freezer).

You also might want to check out the website of our friend, Cas Vanderwoude in Hawaii:
He has some useful tips there for how to get rid of Wasmannia auropunctata, and the research his team is doing to fight this invasive species.

Good luck! Sorry you're having so much trouble with these ants!
Jesse Czekanski-Moir & the AntAsk Team

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