“World of Ants” Store Sells Extreme Pest Insects (part 2)

Remember the German World of Ants store that traffics in dangerous invasive pest species and illegally collected ants? Now they’re offering yet another risky animal, the little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata:

A screen capture from the World of Ants store, used here under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law

Wasmannia auropunctata is perhaps the most dangerous pest ant in the Pacific region, where it wipes clean native arthropod faunas and is a big factor in the decline of island vertebrate species like the endangered Galapagos tortoise. Governments are spending millions trying to contain it. It’s an insidious little creature.

The Pacific Invasive Ants group summarizes the problem:

Wasmannia auropunctata is native to South America, but is rapidly spreading across many tropical regions, including the Pacific Islands. It is well documented as causing devastating damage to ecological and agricultural systems, and also poses significant human health risks. Wasmannia auropunctata is considered to be one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world by the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). See their web page for a more complete review of the biology, impacts and management.

If a specimen collected from an uninfected region is identified as W. auropunctata, it is recommended that the sample be sent to a taxonomic specialist for confirmation. If confirmed, it is recommended that an emergency eradication or management plan be initiated as quickly as possible.

Can we send an emergency eradication program to the World of Ants headquarters?

18 thoughts on ““World of Ants” Store Sells Extreme Pest Insects (part 2)”

  1. All of the pet trade is simply out of control and a major contributor to the invasives problems we have in water and on land. Why would we expect ant pet traders to be any more responsible?

    1. I can hardly stand to go into a pet store. They are like roadside zoos of old, often with unhealthy animals, these all too often wild caught, kept in too small containers, and of unknown invasive potential. There is a conscientious subset to the pet trade, dealing only in healthy captive-bred animals, but even these can escape and become ecologically damaging, e.g., feral cats and dogs, to name the oldest examples.

      I like your tag for this post, Alex.

  2. Oh this angers me so much! I just don’t understand how much do you have to love money to be ready to destroy the native ecosystem without feeling at least a bit guilty.

  3. Hm, this is pretty dumb. But at least this time they’re telling people to get a good outbreak protection and mention that it’s an invasive species..

    It’s a start.

  4. So he is a bavarian. Like all bavarians in germany his first love is money. And unfortunately many non professionals think they can make fast money with ants.

    The example is the Camponotus xiangbang discussion in a german ant community.

  5. Hi Antbrain,
    I guess you are wrong! I am a Bavarian myself in Germany (correctly capitalized names!), and I strongly insist that your remark is a misrepresentation. Imagine that, e.g., Bert Hölldobler also is a Bavarian, and so you are insulting him, too.
    Thanks,
    A. Buschinger

  6. Jonathan Nixon

    Are people really buying these with or without realizing the environmental impact this particular species could have if they escaped?

    1. A. Buschinger

      Hi Jonathan Nixon,

      Yes, they do!
      In German antforums I begun by about 2001 trying to tell people what was wrong with this business, however, without any success. See here:

      Buschinger, A. (2004): International Pet Ant Trade. Increasing Risk and Danger in Europe – (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Aliens 19&20, 24-26
      http://www.issg.org/pdf/aliens_newsletters/A19-20.pdf

      We had a similar discussion already here, in part 1 of “World of Ants Store sells….”:
      http://myrmecos.net/2011/11/19/world-of-ants-store-sells-extreme-pest-insects/

      A. Buschinger

  7. Pingback: The Other Wasmannia – MYRMECOS - Insect Photography - Insect Pictures

    1. If some Inuit ant trader sold them to people in arctic reagions you probably would freak out too, wouldn’t you?

      1. The European ant traders ship outside of Europe. They might claim not to, but I see enough of the conversations in forums to know well enough that this isn’t true.

  8. Taking into consideration the publics concern regards invasive species I will be removing the only invasive I sell – Solenopsis germinata and not stocking it again.

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