Problem of invasive ants might be much worse than thought previously.
One team of Spanish scientists found that higher than the expected insects numbers are unwittingly being shipped throughout the world.
Researchers have warned that many such species happen to be establishing the colonies in new habitats which could pose threat for the environment, human health and infrastructure.Research was published in Royal Society Biology Letters journal.
Veronica Miravete, the lead author from Gerona University within Spain, told,
“Due to their small size, most ants are transported involuntarily in containers and other boxes, together with soil, wood, ornamental plants and fruits etc, on ships or airplanes.”
The researchers’ team also looked at numbers of the exotic ants within Netherlands, New Zealand and the US.They found many more such accidental stowaways compared to what was previously reported.They got the estimate that exactly 768 exotic species of ant could’ve been introduced throughout the world via trade routes.Out of these, also they believe above 600 species could’ve established some new colonies.
According to Dr Miravete,
“The number of ants arriving is very large and 85% of the introduced species are able to establish successfully. This indicates that there are many introduced species that are living around us as of yet undetected.”
Though not many animals which move towards any new region tend to pose threat, some could wreak havoc; the invasive ants happen to be some alien offenders of worst form.
In Europe, Argentine aggressive ants have built mega-colonies. They’re out-competing the local populations of ants that have sent ripples around the ecosystem.In US, invasion of crazy ants Rasberry in South America has caused loads of problems because these insects swarm within electrical equipment.
Spread of the fire ants also has been unwelcome due to painful sting they cause.Researchers think that more is needed for halting spread of the pests.
According to Dr Miravete, once the exotic ants start up some new region, it’s very difficult to eradicate them. Dr Miravete further said that there were varied methods for preventing the alien species like the pre-border assessments of risk, quarantine inspections and black lists. But especially, the need is to observe the shipping routes through regions having highest probability that they could lead to the introductions.