Wasmannia auropunctata, also known as the “electric ant” or “little fire ant”, is native to Central America.
Wasmannia auropunctata has been unintentionally introduced around the world, believed to spread via the horticultural pathway to locations with sufficient humidity. The fire ant has been recently detected also in Cyprus. In the invaded areas, it has been found to reduce native arthropod biodiversity and to affect the fecundity and fertility of vertebrates. The ant also poses a significant health risk to humans, due to its stinging that may cause anaphylactic shocks to allergic people or harm domestic animals. Considering its invasiveness and damages, the insect has been inserted in the list of species of Union concern, under EU Regulation 1143/2014
Further research is necessary to determine the W. auropunctata distribution and assess its possible negative impacts on native biodiversity, economy and human health in Europe.
People can contribute to the monitoring of the fire ant by sending observations through the Invasive Alien Species in Europe App