Little fire ants (LFA) may be tiny, but they pack a powerful sting. Native to South America, these speck-sized invaders have hitchhiked across the Pacific, hidden in imported goods, establishing new populations in islands like Hawaiʻi. Much smaller than the average ant, LFA are about as long as a penny is thick.
LFA are considered one of the World’s 100 Worst Invasive Species (IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group), because of their ability to reach very high numbers, to the point where people and animals can’t avoid stings. Without the competition and predators that could keep their numbers in check, they are invading houses, yards, agricultural fields, and forests. They’re also terrible at hanging on, so they easily fall off plants and trees when bumped by people or animals. Unsuspecting victims of the “ant rain” are left with painful stings.
Little fire ants may have reached our shores, but we can’t treat it like “just another ant.” It’s up to each of us to Spot The Ant and Stop the Ant.