Little Fire Ants

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name:

Wasmannia auropunctata


What Do They Look Like?
  • Size: These workers are very small at only about 1.5 mm long, while the queens are about 4 mm long.
  • Color: Little fire ant workers are light to golden brown in color. Their queens are very similar in color.
  • Characteristics: These insects are part of the tramp ant group. They are invasive species that are able to survive in moist and dry new environments that have an absence of their natural enemies.

How Did I Get Little Fire Ants?

Little fire ants may enter houses through cracks and crevices in foundations. These ants rarely enter homes, but when they do they are likely foraging for food. These ants are especially fond of potted plants, so homeowners may accidentally carry these pests indoors.

How Serious Are Little Fire Ants?

Agricultural Damage

Little fire ants are a serious annoyance and health threat to fruit pickers in citrus groves and orchards.

Do They Sting?

Little fire ants can sting many times and their reactions from their stings vary from moderate to severe pain. They often cause painful welts that can last for several weeks.

Danger to Pets

In addition to attacking people who threaten them, these insects are also harmful to pets. In extreme cases, infestations have blinded cats and dogs.

Signs Of Infestation

Common signs of little fire ant infestations include:

  • Recent disturbed locations around the home.
  • Trails along baseboards in buildings.
  • Unexpected painful stings.

How Do I Get Rid of Little Fire Ants?

What You Can Do

Keeping the inside of your home free of foods that attract little fire ants can go a long way towards helping prevent or reduce these ants.

What Orkin Does

Targeting these ant nests with insecticides and using baits can be effective as well as using dust or aerosol insecticides on infested structure voids. Always consult your pest professionals before using chemicals.

Your pest management professional will explain the following prevention practices: To prevent these insects from your home or yard, remove grass and mulch away from driveways, foundations, and sidewalks. Homeowners should also inspect and remove items that attract these insects such as:

  • Firewood
  • Landscape timbers
  • Piles of wood
  • Stones

Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage little fire ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep little fire ants in their place and out of your home or business.

Behavior, Diet, & Habits

Little fire ant workers are very slow moving unlike most other kinds of ants. In fact, at times they move so slowly that they are not observed until someone becomes the victim of their very painful, burning sting.

Unlike other fire ants, these insects are not likely to defend themselves in a large, stinging swarm. They are less aggressive and will sting only when pressed upon by an unsuspecting person or animal. In general, if someone is being stung, but no ants are seen, little fire ants are often the cause.

What Do They Eat?

In search of food, little fire ants trail along sidewalks and foundations up around buildings. These insects feed on the following:

  • Honeydew from aphids and scales.
  • Peanut butter or other oily foods.
  • Protein from dead and living arthropods.
Where Do They Live?

Several queens and large numbers of workers, pupae, larvae, and eggs make up a little fire ant nest, which can often be found in places such as:

  • Beneath forest floor debris
  • Furniture
  • Greenhouses
  • Palms or palmettos plant sheaths
  • Pantries
  • Tree crotches
  • Under flower pots
  • Walls
Geographic Range

Little fire ants are established in southeastern states and the island of Hawaii, plus they have been reported in Los Angeles county, California.


Little fire ants benefit from both asexual and sexual reproduction, and colonies usually have multiple queens. Most new colonies are formed by budding. This process is when a fertile queen and a group of workers will leave the established colony to form a new colony.