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Wasmannia auropunctata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Wasmannia
Forel, 1893
Type species
Tetramorium auropunctatum, now Wasmannia auropunctata
11 species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)

Wasmannia auropunctata casent0005064 profile 1.jpg

Wasmannia auropunctata

Wasmannia auropunctata casent0005064 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Evolutionary Relationships

Ochetomyrmex (2 species), Tranopelta (2 species)

  (1 species)

  (16 species)

  (4 species)

  (8 species)

  (11 species)

Acanthognathus (7 species), Colobostruma (16 species), Daceton (2 species), Epopostruma (20 species), Lenomyrmex (7 species), Mesostruma (9 species), Microdaceton (4 species), Orectognathus (29 species)

Acromyrmex (56 species), Apterostigma (44 species), Atta (20 species), Cyatta (1 species), Cyphomyrmex (23 species), Kalathomyrmex (1 species), Mycetophylax (21 species), Mycetagroicus (4 species), Mycetarotes (4 species), Mycetosoritis (2 species), Mycocepurus (6 species), Myrmicocrypta (31 species), Sericomyrmex (11 species), Trachymyrmex (9 species), Xerolitor (1 species)

Basiceros (9 species), Cephalotes (123 species), Eurhopalothrix (55 species), Octostruma (35 species), Phalacromyrmex (1 species), Pheidole (1,294 species), Pilotrochus (1 species), Procryptocerus (44 species), Protalaridris (7 species), Rhopalothrix (16 species), Strumigenys (859 species), Talaridris (1 species)

Based on Ward et al. (2014), Blaimer et al. (2018) and Li et al. (2018).

Cuezzo and Calcaterra (2015) - The genus Wasmannia is mostly endemic to the Neotropics, with eleven species occurring from Argentina to Mexico. The little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata is the most widely distributed species of the genus, being present from central-eastern Argentina north to the Caribbean and Bermuda (Wetterer & Porter, 2003). It has spread fairly recently throughout Pacific and Atlantic islands, and the Mediterranean region (e.g. Israel), and has become a serious pest in Hawaii and the Galapagos, disrupting agricultural practices and threatening wildlife (Foucaud et al., 2010).


Cuezzo and Calcaterra (2015) - All species of Wasmannia are small ants that can be differentiated from Blepharidatta and Allomerus by 1) having shallow, always well-developed antennal scrobes, 2) posterior margin of the vertex not pronounced as lobes or teeth (as in Blepharidatta), 3) petiolar node with a distinct anterior and dorsal face, and 4) irregularly striated head, at least in part, in full face view (Longino & Fernandez, 2007).

Besides these characters, the eight known species of Allomerus inhabit internal cavities of plants and have the propodeum unarmed to bidentate. The well-developed spines between the dorsal and posterior face of the propodeum, so typical of Wasmannia, are absent in Allomerus. The body of workers in Allomerus is always smooth and shining, resembling more a small Solenopsis than a worker of Wasmannia.

Keys including this Genus


Keys to Species in this Genus


Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps



Cuezzo et al. (2015) - The only species widely distributed in Argentina is the little fire ant, W. auropunctata, while the other four recorded species are rare and/or inconspicuous. The distribution of the W. auropunctata known from previous studies by Kusnezov (1952), Kempf (1972), Cuezzo (1998), and Fuentes et al.(1998) (Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, Córdoba, Santa Fe, Corrientes, Chaco, Formosa, Tucumán, Jujuy, Salta and Misiones) was extended in this work to the provinces of Santiago del Estero, Catamarca, and La Rioja. W. auropunctata was not found in natural/native habitats of the Monte ecoregion, nor in the Patagonian ecoregion (L.A.C., unpublished data). The finding of W. auropunctata in Lozano (southern Buenos Aires province, 34º51´S) extends the known range 100 km further south than previously recorded in northeastern Buenos Aires (Reserva Natural Otamendi; 34º13’S) (Fuentes et al., 1998).

The other four species found in Argentina (W. sulcaticeps, W. rochai, W. williamsoni, and W. longiseta n. sp.) were much less common than W. auropunctata, and they were mostly present in natural and/or disturbed habitats. W. sulcaticeps was recorded for the first time for Corrientes and Catamarca provinces; it was previously known only from Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Córdoba, Tucumán, Salta, and Jujuy provinces (Cuezzo, 1998; Vittar & Cuezzo, 2008). Although intensive surveys were conducted at multiple sites and in different biogeographic regions of Argentina, W. williamsoni was only found in central-eastern Argentina, suggesting it may be a relict endemic species. W. williamsoni was more common in the Parque Provincial Ernest Tornquist. This park protects several rare and endemic species of the Ventania mountainous system (Sellés-Martínez, 2001), which originates from the Tertiary period (around 22 million years ago). This could be the case of W. williamsoni, which is mostly restricted to this region and seems to show very small populations confined mainly to a specific habitat type. According to Longino & Fernández (2007), W. williamsoni and W. sulcaticeps are two related species that occur at the far southern limit of distribution of the genus and, as stated by Kusnezov (1952), could be the most primitive members of the genus, acting in the present as relicts. It is important to note that both species overlapped with W. auropunctata (more commonly in the lowlands) between approximately 400 and 1000 m elevation.

Association with Other Organisms

All Associate Records for Genus

Explore Associate Data: All, Drilldown
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Taxon Relationship Associate Type Associate Taxon Associate Relationship Locality Source Notes
Wasmannia auropunctata host eucharitid wasp Orasema minutissima parasite Mann, 1918; Heraty, 1994; Wetterer & Porter, 2003; Burks et al., 2018; Baker et al., 2019; Heraty et al., 2021; Universal Chalcidoidea Database primary host
Wasmannia sigmoidea host eucharitid wasp Orasema minutissima parasite Mann, 1918; Heraty, 1994; Wetterer & Porter, 2003; Burks et al., 2018; Baker et al., 2019; Universal Chalcidoidea Database primary host

Life History Traits

  • Mean colony size: 839 (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Compound colony type: not parasitic (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Nest site: hypogaeic; arboreal (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Diet class: omnivore (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Foraging stratum: subterranean/leaf litter; arboreal (Greer et al., 2021)
  • Foraging behaviour: cooperative (Greer et al., 2021)



Worker Morphology

• Antennal segment count: 11 • Antennal club: 2 • Palp formula: 3,2 • Spur formula: 0, 0 • Eyes: 11-100 ommatidia • Pronotal Spines: absent • Mesonotal Spines: absent • Propodeal Spines: present • Petiolar Spines: absent • Caste: none or weak • Sting: present • Metaplural Gland: present • Cocoon: absent

Male Morphology

 • Antennal segment count 13 • Antennal club 0 • Palp formula 3,2 • Total dental count 5 • Spur formula 0, 0


All Karyotype Records for Genus

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Taxon Haploid Diploid Karyotype Locality Source Notes
Wasmannia auropunctata 32 16M+13SM+5ST French Guiana Aguiar et al., 2020
Wasmannia auropunctata 32 20M+12A Brazil deSouza et al., 2011


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • WASMANNIA [Myrmicinae: Blepharidattini]
    • Wasmannia Forel, 1893g: 383. Type-species: Tetramorium auropunctatum, by subsequent designation of Wheeler, W.M. 1911f: 174.
    • Wasmannia senior synonym of Hercynia: Brown, 1948d: 102.
  • HERCYNIA [junior synonym of Wasmannia]
    • Hercynia Enzmann, J. 1947a: 43. Type-species: Hercynia panamana (junior synonym of Tetramorium auropunctatum), by monotypy.
    • Hercynia junior synonym of Wasmannia: Brown, 1948d: 102.