The Little Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) is known by many names around the world, including cocoa-tree ant, little red fire ant, or electric ant (because stings have been compared to the feeling of an electrical burn). It is native to South America, but has invaded tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world from Africa to Israel to Australia to the Galapagos Islands. It is even known as a greenhouse pest in colder areas such as Europe and Canada! LFA can be transported easily though many kinds of personal and commercial cargo.
Through DNA studies, we can see that the LFA we have now in Hawaii are most closely related to invasive colonies in Florida. It is thought that they were accidentally introduced to Hawaii Island on shipments of plants to nurseries in Puna sometime in the 1990s.
LFA are listed among the world’s 100 worst invasive species. They are easily transported on cars, building material, plant materials, and produce are a few examples.
The Hawaii Ant Lab and the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture has been working for a decade to research and develop methods of controlling little fire ant in Hawaii.
Check out the LFA drop down menu for more information and links to other useful websites.