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Species: Wasmannia auropunctata   (Roger, 1863) 

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Current Valid Name:

Taxonomic History (provided by Barry Bolton, 2023)

Tetramorium auropunctatum Roger, 1863a PDF: 182 (w.q.m.) CUBA. Neotropic. Primary type information: Type-material: syntype workers, syntype queens, syntype males (numbers not stated). Type-locality: Cuba: (no further data) (H. Gundlach). Type-depository: MNHU (perhaps also in DEIB, ZSBS). AntCat AntWiki HOL

Taxonomic history

[Misspelled as aurata by Menozzi, 1935b PDF: 196.]
Combination in Ochetomyrmex: Forel, 1886b PDF: xlix.
Combination in Wasmannia: Forel, 1893j PDF: 383.
Status as species: Roger, 1863b PDF: 27; Mayr, 1863a PDF: 456; Forel, 1885a PDF: 375; Forel, 1886b PDF: xlix; Mayr, 1887 PDF: 623; Emery, 1890c PDF: 46; Dalla Torre, 1893 PDF: 130; Forel, 1893j PDF: 383; Emery, 1894l PDF: 53; Forel, 1895b PDF: 126, 143; Forel, 1897b PDF: 300; Forel, 1899b PDF: 54; Forel, 1901d PDF: 128; Forel, 1902b PDF: 177; Wheeler, 1905c PDF: 128; Emery, 1906c PDF: 160; Wheeler, 1908a PDF: 143; Wheeler, 1908b PDF: 161; Forel, 1908c PDF: 44; Wheeler, 1911a PDF: 28; Wheeler, 1911b PDF: 170; Forel, 1912h PDF: 1; Wheeler, 1913b PDF: 486; Wheeler, 1913e PDF: 240; Wheeler & Mann, 1914 PDF: 38; Donisthorpe, 1915f PDF: 341; Mann, 1916 PDF: 448; Wheeler, 1916c PDF: 8; Wheeler, 1916f PDF: 324; Wasmann, 1918a PDF: 75; Luederwaldt, 1918 PDF: 40; Wheeler, 1919e: 304; Mann, 1920b PDF: 428; Mann, 1922 PDF: 33; Wheeler, 1922: 912; Wheeler, 1922e PDF: 11; Wheeler, 1923d PDF: 5; Emery, 1924f PDF: 294; Wheeler, 1925a PDF: 36; Stärcke, 1926a PDF: 88 (in key); Borgmeier, 1927c PDF: 111; Donisthorpe, 1927c: 393; Menozzi, 1927c PDF: 268; Menozzi, 1929b PDF: 3; Menozzi & Russo, 1930 PDF: 162; Smith, 1930a PDF: 4; Menozzi, 1931b PDF: 272; Santschi, 1931d PDF: 271; Wheeler, 1932a PDF: 11; Wheeler, 1935g: 32; Eidmann, 1936a PDF: 48; Wheeler, 1936c PDF: 200; Smith, 1937 PDF: 854; Wheeler, 1942 PDF: 207; Brown, 1948d PDF: 102; Weber, 1948b PDF: 82; Creighton, 1950a PDF: 295; Smith, 1951c PDF: 824; Kusnezov, 1952h PDF: 182 (in key); Kusnezov, 1953c PDF: 338; Smith, 1954c PDF: 7; Smith, 1958c PDF: 135; Kempf, 1961b PDF: 512; Kempf, 1964e PDF: 66; Kempf, 1970b PDF: 335; Kempf, 1972b PDF: 257; Alayo, 1974 PDF: 39; Smith, 1979: 1402; Taylor, 1987a PDF: 81; Zolessi et al., 1988: 4; Deyrup et al., 1989 PDF: 97; Brandão, 1991 PDF: 383; Bolton, 1995b: 423; Deyrup et al., 2000: 298; Deyrup, 2003 PDF: 47; Wetterer & Wetterer, 2004 PDF: 215; Coovert, 2005 PDF: 86; Ward, 2005 PDF: 38; Longino & Fernández, 2007 PDF: 276; Wild, 2007b PDF: 38; Vonshak & Ionescu-Hirsch, 2010 PDF: 45; Branstetter & Sáenz, 2012 PDF: 262; Sarnat et al., 2013 PDF: 72; Wetterer, 2013d 10.1163/18749836-06001068 PDF: 173; Borowiec, 2014 PDF: 206; Ramage, 2014 PDF: 174; Bezděčková et al., 2015 PDF: 122; Cuezzo et al., 2015 PDF: 249 (redescription); Wetterer et al., 2016 PDF: 21; Deyrup, 2017: 158; Fernández & Serna, 2019 PDF: 881; Lubertazzi, 2019 10.3099/MCZ-43.1 PDF: 198.
// Distribution


  Geographic regions (According to curated Geolocale/Taxon lists):
    Africa: Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone
    Americas: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Galapagos Islands, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela
    Asia: Israel
    Europe: Spain
    Oceania: Australia, Hawaii, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu
  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: 865 times found in mature wet forest, 533 times found in tropical rainforest, 410 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, 170 times found in lowland rainforest, 150 times found in tropical wet forest, ...

Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 2546 times ex sifted leaf litter, 1376 times at bait, 178 times Hojarasca, 86 times litter, 51 times Sobre Vegetacion, 43 times sifting leaf litter, 30 times Malaise trap, 41 times sifted litter, 40 times ex sifted litter, 39 times beating vegetation, 16 times leaf litter, ...

Collected most commonly using these methods: 2179 times MiniWinkler, 1355 times Baiting, 403 times Winkler, 185 times MaxiWinkler, 178 times Mini Winkler, 99 times Berlese, 80 times Malaise, 68 times search, 54 times sweeping, 36 times Fogging, 60 times Beating, ...

Elevations: collected from 1 - 2600 meters, 400 meters average

Collect Date Range: collected between 1927-08-06 00:00:00.0 and 2023-01-13 00:00:00.0

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 obscura: focol0708, focol0065-1, focol0065-2

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