The most destructive, invasive ant species has been confirmed in Europe. Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) have built at least 88 nests in Sicily. As scientists who found the colonies fear, the insects may quickly spread to other countries on the continent.
Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) – one of the most invasive and destructive species in the world, have reached Europe – according to a study published on Monday in the scientific journal “Current Biology”. Scientists found 88 nests of these insects near Syracuse, Sicily.
From South America
These ants cause painful bites, destroy crops, and threaten local fauna and flora. They can also nest in electrical devices and cause them to malfunction. Scientists warn that they may also spread to other parts of Europe.
The invasive species comes from South America, but over the last century it has already colonized certain areas in the United States, Mexico, China, Australia, and the Caribbean. In the United States, it causes losses estimated at six billion dollars a year. According to the daily “La Repubblica”, it was only eradicated in New Zealand.
Previously they had no colonies
As the media emphasize, fire ants have previously been detected in products imported from abroad in Spain, Finland and the Netherlands, but so far there has been no evidence confirming their permanent presence in European nature.
– Solenopsis invicta it is one of the most invasive species. They can spread alarmingly quickly (…) Finding this species in Italy was a big surprise, but we knew this day would come, admitted Mattia Menchetti, head of the study from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona.
Genetic analysis of ants found in Sicily showed that they most likely came there from the USA or China. The authors of the study estimated that under current climatic conditions ants S. invicta they could establish themselves in about seven percent of Europe, including half of European cities, including Barcelona, Rome, Paris and London. Further climate warming may further promote their spread, scientists warned.
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