Dozens of crimson imported fireplace ant nests have been present in Sicily, Italy – an indication that the invasive bugs have develop into established in Europe.
The crimson imported fireplace ant (Solenopsis invicta) is a venomous species that initially comes from South America. Because it was first described by science in 1916, the species has unfold around the globe, together with to Australia, China and the US, primarily as a result of imports of soil and crops from its native area to different international locations.
“It’s thought of one of many worst invasive species,” says Mattia Menchetti on the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain. For folks, crimson fireplace ant bites will be extraordinarily painful as a result of their venom, which some folks could even be allergic to, he says.
Pink fireplace ants additionally pose a risk to nature by preying on different species, resembling birds and reptiles, and displacing native ant species.
Native reviews of painful ant stings from across the coastal metropolis of Syracuse on the island of Sicily have been circulating for a number of years, says Menchetti.
He and his colleagues went to gather samples of the culprits and rapidly recognized them as S. invicta. The workforce discovered a complete of 88 crimson imported fireplace ant nests unfold over 4.7 hectares within the space.
DNA from these ants was discovered to be most much like crimson imported fires ants in China and the US – a clue that the now established Sicily inhabitants could have come from both of these international locations.
In accordance with the workforce’s fashions, the ants might unfold to 7 per cent of Europe underneath present environmental situations, though local weather change might improve their vary additional. They’re almost certainly to unfold to heat, well-connected areas, resembling coastal Mediterranean cities. However city areas throughout the continent, together with Paris and London, could also be appropriate for the species to thrive as a result of their many warmth sources, resembling buildings.
Menchetti’s workforce is working with authorities to proceed monitoring the area and to ascertain the extent of the inhabitants, which can information eradication plans.