The red fire ant arrives in Europe: one of the worst invasive species in the world | Climate and Environment | EUROtoday

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It could look like simply one other annoying insect, however it’s not. The red fire antinvite Solenopsis) It is taken into account one of the worst invasive species in the world and the fifth most complex to fight. And it has already arrived in Europe, after colonizing half the world. A gaggle of scientists has discovered 88 nests unfold over 5 hectares close to Syracuse, Sicily (Italy), in what is taken into account the first official sighting. The species, native to South America, has a fantastic impression on ecosystems, agriculture and human well being. As its identify suggests, the chew is painful, irritating and can generate pustules and allergic reactions, in addition to inflicting anaphylactic shock. The fashions carried out by the research, led by the Institute of Evolutionary Biology-CSIC, present alarming predictions about the colonization of this ant in Europe, which may very well be favored by local weather change.

These undesirable colonizers might come from China or the United States, the place it is usually an invasive species, concludes the work, printed in the scientific journal Current Biology. In Spain, Finland and Holland some specimens have been detected in imported merchandise, however there was no affirmation of colonies anyplace in Europe. Once right here, the state of affairs is worrying. “The big problem is stopping them and the chances of success are slim,” says Roger Vila, principal investigator at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology. “If there is any option, it is now, before they begin to expand, then it is impossible,” he says. When an invasive species lands someplace in the world, a interval of latency happens, which then transitions to exponential development.

Red fire ant nest in Italy.
Red fire ant nest in Italy. Enrico Schifani

Under present weather conditions, the fire ant might set up itself in 7% of Europe, the researchers point out. Half of the city areas on the continent could be appropriate for its institution and, given its abundance and aggressiveness, it might alter the life-style of individuals in giant cities reminiscent of Barcelona, ​​Rome, London or Paris.

The first signal that one thing was taking place in Syracuse got here from data from individuals who had suffered painful stings on a leisure pier. “They sent us photos and we saw that it could be the ant,” says Vila. To confirm this, half of the group – made up of Spanish and Italian researchers – traveled to the place and verified by sequencing the DNA that it was the fearsome ant. “When talking to people we realized that they have been suffering from bites for three years,” he says. This truth makes them concern that there will likely be extra colonies.

It could be very tough to know the path by way of which invasive species arrive. On this event, the actual level will not be identified both, however by learning the route of the wind, the researchers suspect that some flying queen ants might have arrived from the northwest, the place the industrial port of Syracuse is situated, about 14 kilometers from the pier the place the bites have occurred. The common factor is that the entrance door is locations with human and industrial exercise from different international locations, reminiscent of that pier, with extra industrial motion than the small pier the place the nests have been situated. The nice connection that exists between the coastal cities of the Mediterranean favors this growth.

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Dozens of queens in a nest

The researchers are advising the regional Executive in growing an eradication plan, which should be permitted by the Government of the nation. It will not be straightforward attributable to the fire ant’s means to proliferate. “First we have to eliminate what we have found, and to do this we have to kill the queens using poisoned bait that the workers carry into the nest,” explains Vila. They are very giant habitats, which prolong underground with tens of 1000’s of ants and dozens of queens. “We have received the variety that creates super colonies, there is another that only has one queen per nest,” she says. The second step is to watch, search for different sources of invasion in close by locations, particularly in the route of the industrial port of Syracuse.

Its pace of growth is clear. In lower than a century, the species has established itself in a lot of the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, China, Taiwan and Australia, and has solely been eradicated in New Zealand, the authors point out in an announcement. In the United States, its presence causes an estimated loss of almost six billion euros per yr. And in Australia they dedicate thousands and thousands to its eradication, with out having succeeded to this point. Invasive species trigger an annual price in the world of 423 billion {dollars} (about 393 billion euros), including financial losses and efforts to get rid of them. And they’re amongst the 5 fundamental causes of the biodiversity loss disaster that’s plaguing the planet, concludes the Report ‘Assessment of invasive unique species and their management’, which was offered final Monday.

Mattia Menchetti, one of the scientists of the research, explains that the species “reduces the biodiversity of invertebrates and small vertebrates, and can even cause damage and kill young individuals of larger animals.” They additionally trigger harm to agriculture by consuming components of crops and even to infrastructure with the deterioration of wiring.

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