Evolution may improve the invasiveness of populations, but it often remains unclear whether key adaptation events occur after introduction into the recipient habitat (i.e. post-introduction adaptation scenario), or before introduction within the native range (i.e. prior-adaptation scenario) or at a primary site of invasion (i.e. bridgehead scenario). We used a multidisciplinary approach to determine which of these three scenarios underlies the invasion of the tropical ant Wasmannia auropunctata in a Mediterranean region (i.e. Israel). Species distribution models (SDM), phylogeographical analyses at a broad geographical scale and laboratory experiments on appropriate native and invasive populations indicated that Israeli populations followed an invasion scenario in which adaptation to cold occurred at the southern limit of the native range before dispersal to Israel. We discuss the usefulness of combining SDM, genetic and experimental approaches for unambiguous determination of eco-evolutionary invasion scenarios.