Entomologists discover a inhabitants of invasive crimson fireplace ants in Italy

The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta). Image credit: Alex Wild / University of Texas Insects Unlocked program.

the Imported red fire ant (Solenopsis is invincible) It is among the world’s worst invasive alien species and the fifth costliest species, affecting ecosystems, agriculture and human well being. Researchers from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at CSIC-Pompeu Fabra College have documented 88 nests of imported crimson fireplace ants – a primary in Europe – close to the town of Syracuse in Sicily, Italy. Researchers warn that the ants could quickly unfold throughout the continent, probably inflicting main environmental, well being and financial issues in Italy and past.

Red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta).  Image credit: Alex Wild/University of Texas Unlocked Insect Program.

Imported crimson fireplace ant (Solenopsis is invincible). Picture credit score: Alex Wild/College of Texas Unlocked Insect Program.

Solenopsis is invincible It is among the worst invasive species. “It may possibly unfold at an alarming velocity,” mentioned Dr. Mattia Menschetti, lead creator of the examine.

“Discovering this species in Italy was an enormous shock, however we knew today would come.”

Solenopsis is invincibleIts frequent identify comes from its most well-known attribute – its stings – that are painful and, typically, may cause anaphylactic shock.

Though it Originated In South America, Solenopsis is invincible It unfold shortly, blowing up in wind currents and touring farther domestically.

However people additionally helped it unfold by means of the maritime commerce business and by delivery manufacturing unit merchandise, enabling it to determine itself in Australia, China, the Caribbean, Mexico, and all through the US in lower than a century. Europe has evaded them for longer than anticipated.

“There are numerous unique ant species at the moment inhabiting Europe, and the absence of this species was a little bit of a aid,” Dr Menchetty mentioned.

“For many years, scientists have feared its arrival. We could not consider our eyes after we noticed it.”

After seeing photos taken in Sicily of what it appeared like Solenopsis is invincibleDr. Menchetty and his colleagues made a visit to the realm to substantiate the id of the ants and acquire samples.

They discovered a complete of 88 nests in a 4.7-hectare space subsequent to the river, some housing a number of thousand employee ants, close to the town of Syracuse in Sicily.

After talking with native residents, researchers discovered that folks within the Sicily area had been stung — repeatedly — for a number of years.

“Locals have been affected by these painful issues since no less than 2019, so the ants could have been there for some time. The true extent of the invaded space might be even better,” Dr. Menchetti mentioned.

By analyzing the DNA of the Sicilian queen ant and evaluating it to the genomes of ants from world wide, the researchers concluded that this explicit group seemingly got here from both the US or China.

Subsequent, they analyzed native wind patterns in Sicily to see how the ants may unfold now that they had been in Europe.

Additionally they developed a complete mannequin to find out how appropriate the remainder of Europe and the Mediterranean area are for this species, and whether or not local weather change shall be an element.

In line with the mannequin, 7% of the European continent is appropriate for Solenopsis is invincible Given present environmental situations, local weather change is more likely to speed up their unfold and inhabitants development additional.

Additionally they discovered that city areas are notably susceptible. In actual fact, 50% of Europe’s cities are susceptible to invasion.

Dr Roger Vella, senior creator of the examine, mentioned: ‘That is notably worrying as a result of many cities, together with London, Amsterdam and Rome, have giant seaports, which can enable ants to unfold quickly to extra nations and continents.’

the group a job It was revealed within the journal Present biology.


Matthias Menchetti et al. 2023. The invasive ant Solenopsis is invincible It was established in Europe. Present biology 33 (17): 896-897; doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.07.036



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