Frequently Asked Questions
Where did they come from?
This Little Fire Ant, (Wasmannia auropunctata) or LFA, was first detected on Guam in 2011 at a green waste processing facility in northern Guam. According to the Biosecurity Division, there are at least 25 widely dispersed sites on island. 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 considered to be perhaps the greatest ant species threat in the Pacific region. This species has been nominated among 100 of the ‘World’s Worst’ invaders.
How can I tell if I have Little Fire Ants?
It’s best to do a quick survey if you suspect you have LFA on your property.
Follow our instructions on our website: How to Find LFA
If you suspect LFA on your property:
Call us at 475-PEST (7378)
I have a microscope - how can I identify them?
How to identify the little fire ant, or LFA:
Little Fire Ants, or Wasmannia auropunctata have a combination of unique features.
Here’s what to look for:
1. Two “bumps” between the thorax and abdomen (a petiole and post-petiole).
2. The last 2 segments of the antenna are much bigger than all the others (a 2-segmented antennal club)
3. They have two long spines protruding from the end of the thorax that are long enough to reach to the first “bump” (long propodeal spines)
So if it has the two bumps AND the 2 bigger antenna segments AND the two long spines that reach all the way back to the bumps, then your ant is very probably a little fire ant. But all this can be a bit tricky and even the best entomologists will get a second opinion from someone else. So before anything else, get an expert to check the sample for you to confirm that you are right.
To learn more about identifying ants in Guam and the Pacific region, check out these sites:
- 5 worst threat ants to the Pacific – Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit (piat.org.nz)
I have checked my lot and there are none here. What can I do to keep it that way?
There are some really easy things you can do to keep Little Fire Ants away from your home. Remember, LFA are “hitch-hiker” ants. The way they move from place to place is by hitching a ride with other items. So the first, and most important thing, is to check anything you bring to your home to make sure you are not accidentally bringing LFA as well. The things that are most likely to have LFA traveling with them are potted plants, cuttings, foliage, soil, mulch and landscaping materials. Check these using the chopstick method described earlier.
The second way LFA can enter your property is by natural spread from neighboring properties. This is a much slower process but can also be prevented. The easiest way to manage natural spread is for the whole neighborhood to work together on preventing LFA. Remember, if your neighbor has LFA, eventually you will too. So, get together with your neighbors and develop a neighborhood plan. If everybody is careful about what they bring on to their property, the whole neighborhood will benefit.
Sometimes its too late and there are LFA nearby already, or maybe your neighbors do not live on-site. The best approach then is to survey your property boundaries using the chopstick method on a regular basis. There are barrier chemicals you can apply along the boundary of your property to keep Little Fire Ants at bay. Check the information sheets on managing LFA for a list of suitable chemicals.