Since the discovery of Wasmannia auropunctata on the Big Island in 1999, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture has enacted quarantine regulations to prevent the shipment of potted plants infested with little fire ant from the Big Island to other islands.
Ant that is orange-red to light brown in color, all workers are 1.5 mm in length (half the size of a sesame seed, or as long as a penny is thick, about 1/16 ")
Slow-moving, easily dislodged from leaves, plants
Native to Central and South America, accidentally introduced as hitchhikers on imported plants
Delivers a painful sting when disturbed. Welts can last for weeks
Infests agricultural fields and farms, where they damage crops and sting workers
Promotes plant pests such as aphids, white flies and scale insects, which secrete plant sap that the ants eat. In turn, the ants protect these insects from natural predators and parasites.
Can also infest houses, beds, furniture and food
In the Galapagos, eats tortoise hatchlings and attacks the eyes of adult tortoises
Kauai: One infestation known in the Kalihiwai area, under active control by KISC and HDOA.
Oahu, Maui, Molokai: Not known to be present at this time. Plant industry workers and property owners are asked to watch for and report this and other ants with aggressive, stinging behavior.
Big Island: infestations on the windward side of the Big Island, in/around nurseries and properties that purchased plants from infested nurseries. BIISC will be assisting HDOA in surveying for this pest particularly in West Hawaii.