Wasmannia auropunctata is a pest ant about which much has been written (e.g., Clark et al. 1982, De Souza et al 1998, Fabres and Brown 1978, Jourdan 1997, Lubin 1984, Ulloa Chac—n and Cherix 1990, Williams 1994). The species is remarkably catholic in its habitat preference. It can be abundant in primary forest or young second growth, wet forest or dry forest, although it is perhaps most abundant in disturbed habitats. It can be an agricultural pest in many parts of the tropics because of its strong sting.
The sting of Wasmannia is worth commenting on. These are extremely tiny ants, barely visible in the field. When I first began studying ants in Costa Rica, for a while I was puzzled about Wasmannia. By literature and reputation Wasmannia was reputed to have a terrible sting, but I had been collecting them for months in Corcovado National Park and never experienced the famous sting. Then one day I was collecting from a populous nest and some workers made it up to the soft skin of my inner forearm and began to sting. The sting was not terrible, about as bad as a fire ant (i.e., Solenopsis geminata) but inordinately strong for an ant you could barely see! I then learned that they are so small they cannot sting through the thicker skin of your hands. I subsequently learned that necks are nice places to get stung. Often when crawling through trashy second growth or Heliconia thickets my neck would start to burn. I would reach around to find the culprit and find nothing there. This was my cue that it was Wasmannia, and often a close inspection would reveal that I had brushed into a nest and workers were scattered on my head and shoulders.
Colonies are polygynous and it is never clear where colony boundaries are. Dozens of dealate queens may be found together in nests. Nests can be almost anywhere: in rolled leaves or dead sticks in the leaf litter, under stones, in rotten wood, in hollow stems suspended above the ground, in ant-plant domatia, and under epiphytes. Workers are omnivorous scavengers and predators and can rapidly recruit to food.