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Report warns of ant invasion

[ August 14, 2013   //   ]

A group of Spanish scientists is calling for closer observations of some shipping routes after they discovered that alien species of ants are establishing themselves in different parts of the world. The researchers have published a report in the Royal Society Biology Letters that looked at the numbers of exotic ants in the Netherlands, US and New Zealand and found that there were larger than expected numbers of the insects are being unwittingly shipped around the world. The BBC reported lead author Veronica Miravete, from the University of Gerona in Spain, as saying: “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.”

Once they set up home, the new species often out-compete existing species, posing a potential threat to the environment. According to the BBC, aggressive Argentine ants have been building mega-colonies in Europe.

International regulations have demanded fumigation of wood used in packaging and in pallets for some time, but the report implies that the ants can be found in any part of shipping containers or their contents.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23684879

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/9/5/20130540

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