Ants: identification and control

Page last updated: Friday, 3 July 2020 - 3:42pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Invasive (tramp) ant species of concern

Table 1. Tramp ant species of concern for Western Australia and other Australian states and territories.

Common name

Scientific name

Origin

Western Australian (and legal) status

Australian status

Bites or stings?

Red imported fire ant

Solenopsis invicta

Red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)

Pantanal region of Brazil

Not present Prohibited entry into WA

Localised incursions (Qld)

Painful sting and stings relentlessly when disturbed

(Anaphylactic shock in some people)

Electric ant (little fire ant)

Wasmannia auropunctata

null

Central and South America

Not present Prohibited entry into WA

Localised incursions (Qld)

Painful sting

Yellow crazy ants

Anoplolepis gracilipes

Image of Yellow crazy ants  (Anoplolepis gracilipes)

South East Asia

Not present Prohibited entry into WA

Localised incursions (Qld, NT, Cocos Island and Christmas Island)

Sprays a formic acid that is painful to eyes

Tropical fire ant
Solenopsis geminata

Tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata) photo courtesy of PaDIL
Tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata) photo courtesy of PaDIL

Mexico, Central/South America

Not present Prohibited entry into WA

Localised incursions (NT, Tiwi Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos Island, Ashmore Reef)

Powerful sting (Anaphylactic shock rare but has been reported)

Browsing ant

Lepisiota frauenfeldi

null

Southern Europe

Eradication program ongoing Prohibited entry into WA

Localised incursions (NT, WA, Qld)

Bites, but not painful to people

Argentine ant

Linepithema humile
Argentine ants

Argentina and South America

Established in WA

Widely established (WA, SA, Vic, NSW, Tas, ACT)

Bites, but not painful to people

Coastal brown ant

(Big-headed ants)

Pheidole megacephala

Coastal brown ants image

Southern and Northern Africa

Established in WA

Widely established (WA, NT, VIC, Qld, NSW)

Stings, but not painful to people

Pennant ant

Tetramorium bicarinatum

(exotic species)

Exotic Tetramorium species (Tetramorium bicarinatum)

Africa

Established in WA

Established in WA and other states

Painful sting

Singapore ant

Trichomyrmex destructor

null

North Africa

Established in WA

Established in WA, NT, NSW, QLD, VIC

Painful sting

Other ant species found in Western Australia

Described below are a number of native and introduced ant species which can be problematic for householders, businesses and farming properties alike. This species list is based on the ant samples submitted to PaDIS for identification. It is not a comprehensive list of all ant species in WA. Click the 'hyperlinked' common name of each ant within the table to access our available ant fact sheets or web pages. Refer also to links on the right hand side of this webpage.

Table 2. Species of Western Australian ants most commonly reported to PaDIS as pests and or causing harm.

Common Name

Scientific name

Native or introduced

Common locations

Bites or stings?

Black house ants

Ochetellus glaber (native to Australia)

Black house ant (Ochetellus glaber)

 

Native House-infesting and attracted to sweet liquids and foods

Does not bite or sting

Bull ants (Bull dog or inch ants)

Myrmecia species

null

Native Natural and urban areas. Underground nests Painful sting

Cocktail ants (Valentine ants)

Crematogaster species

Cocktail ants (Crematogaster species)

Native

Bush land and residential blocks within bush land

Do not bite but can sting

Green headed ants

Rhytidoponera metallica

Green headed ants (Rhytidoponera metallica)

Native Natural and urban areas. Underground nests Painful sting

Meat ants

Iridomyrmex purpureus

Meat ants (Iridomyrmex purpureus)

Native Large mounds in open sunny areas Bites aggressively with jaws

Night or Nocturnal ants

Camponotus species

(native species only, not Carpenter ants)

Native Camponotus species

Native Nest in old trees, woodpiles and in the ground Some species will bite

Nylanderia species

Nylanderia species

Both native and non-native species

Nest in the ground outside. Excavate sand in gardens, lawns and pathways

Harmless and do not sting

Odorous garden ants

Iridomyrmex chasei spp. (native to WA)

Odorous garden ants (Iridomyrmex chasei spp.)

Native Nest in the ground, disturb sand in gardens and pathways

Does not sting, but will swarm and bite

White footed house ants

Technomyrmex species

White footed house ants (Technomyrmex jocosus) with food

 

Native and introduced species Nest in roof and wall spaces, electrical equipment, electrical kitchen appliances etc.

 

Does not bite or sting

Tables 1 and 2 were modified from an Australian Government table.

Reporting and sending specimens for identification

Pest ant identification services are provided to the West Australian public for suspect exotic species and problematic ants. Ants can be easily collected using the sticky side of transparent (clear) sticky tape then gently adhering the tape to white paper. Try not to crush the ants. If the ants are too quick for you to catch on the sticky tape, try using fly spray first. Alternatively, brush ants into a labelled container and seal. Place the ant sample in the freezer for 2 hours.

Detailed instructions for sending a range of insects and plants are available (for WA residents and specimens only) on the following link: https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/livestock-biosecurity/sending-specimens-identification

Enter your contact details on the paper:

  • Location where the ants were caught.
  • Name and contact details of the collector (telephone number/email address).
  • Description of the situation, nests and any damage noticed.

Important: Specimens can be delivered or posted to:

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
Pest and Disease Information Service
3 Baron Hay Court
South Perth, WA 6151

CAUTION: DO NOT SEND LIVE ANTS IN THE POST! If you suspect exotic pests (e.g. red imported fire ants) send photographs and descriptions to padis@dpird.wa.gov.au or call (08) 9368 3080 for guidance as this could potentially spread the suspect pest. 

Book references

Vinson, S.B., 1994. Impact of the invasion of Solenopsis invicta (Buren) on native food webs. In: Williams, D.F. (Ed.), Exotic Ants: Biology, Impact, and Control of Introduced Species. Westview Press, Boulder, CO, pp. 241-258. 

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080