Invasive 'Stowaway' Ants Far Worse Than We Knew
Invasive species are establishing colonies around the world
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2013 3:25 PM CDT
In this photo provided by Mississippi State Entomological Museum, a queen Nylanderia pubens (ant) specimen is seen in Starkville, Miss., Friday, Nov. 6, 2009.    (AP Photo/Mississippi State Entomological Museum, Joe MacGown)

(Newser) – "Stowaway ants" are making their way around the world in higher numbers than previously thought—and some of them are rather nasty, according to Spanish scientists. Most of the insects are transported in ships and planes amid plants, wood, fruit, and soil, and about 85% of the introduced species set up shop successfully abroad. That means more than 600 species may have established colonies around the world—and many "that are living around us as of yet undetected," lead author Veronica Miravete tells the BBC.

So why worry? Well, in Europe, aggressive Argentine ants have upset the ecosystem by establishing big colonies that out-perform the local ants. And the US has seen South America's Rasberry crazy ants nest in electronics and short-circuit equipment. Worse, they're hard to get rid of once colonies are in full swing. But Miravete suggests ways to stop the influx—like setting up black lists and quarantine inspections at our borders. "But especially," she says, "we have to observe shipping routes from the regions with the highest probability of leading to introductions."

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Showing 3 of 39 comments
Vincebus
Aug 16, 2013 11:40 PM CDT
theyre learnin... wow man vs bugs! like in starship troopers!!!!
boxcar
Aug 15, 2013 1:02 PM CDT
Had an ant colony who set up a trail into our back yard, so I took a bottle of CHLORADANE that I'd saved since the 60's before it was outlawed and spread a line of it across their trail. Ants who contacted the pure Chloradane must have made it back to the ant nest because the ant colony is no more. Same went for a batch of termites who had migrated into my attic- just sprayed a mist of Chloradane up there, knocked down their tunnels and they disappeared too. Oh well, too bad for those pests, they landed up in the wrong place
MTnative
Aug 15, 2013 11:39 AM CDT
First, for those of you that aren't aware, the US has been inspecting cargo for things like this for decades.... Why, because insects and other critters destroy crops and and kill the local species. They also carry diseases that humans can get. So if you want plagues of mice and rats, and bullfrogs like they have had in Australia just let it all in. And if you want your price of food to go up because some insect that has no natural predators in the US has come to live here aboard a cargo ship then by all means let it all in. The confusion appears to be folks that have no knowledge of a topic providing us with the "lets do nothing because I don't understand the issue" providing us with there particular brand of wisdom.