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The invasive red fire ant was first discovered in Europe

The invasive red fire ant was first discovered in Europe

For the first time there is evidence of this The scary red fire ant in Europe. On the Italian Mediterranean island Sicily Dozens of invasive species’ nests were discovered, a research team reported in the journal Current Biology. “We knew this day would come,” said lead author Mattia Menchetti of the Spanish Institute of Developmental Biology.

It is feared to be an invasive species Favored by climate change It can spread quickly to other European countries. The research team explained that initially, cities in the Mediterranean region and cities with large ports such as Amsterdam or London are particularly vulnerable.

Originally from South America, the red fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) was first introduced to the United States. The small but highly aggressive animals that eat a variety of other insects have spread rapidly there since about the 1930s, and native ant populations have declined dramatically in many areas of the United States. In addition, it concerns High damage to crops.

“The Undefeated Fire Ant”

As a result of global trade and tourism, fire ants later reached many other countries such as Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. “S. Invicta is One of the worst invasive species“It could spread at an alarming speed,” Menchetty said.

Literally translated, the scientific name Solenopsis invicta means “undefeated fire ant.” When attacked, animals first bite and then inject Secretion from their venomous sting In the wound, often several times in a row. The secretion contains substances that cause a burning reaction in the skin. Attacks are also for people It is very painful and causes red, itchy blisters. In extreme cases, it can be life-threatening for people with allergies.

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Biting attacks since 2019

Scientists examined a five-hectare area near the Sicilian city of Syracuse 88 nests sometimes contain several thousand ants after. Neighbors have reported biting attacks since at least 2019. It is still unclear how exactly this species arrived in Sicily, according to genetic analysis, perhaps via routes from the USA or China. The journey is supposed to be via merchant ships and wind currents.

According to the study, individual red fire ants have previously been found on imported products on the European continent, for example in Spain, Finland and the Netherlands. According to current knowledge, there were no populations left in the wild.

According to information, the only country that was able to eliminate the red fire ant through a multi-year program is New Zealand. Scientists recommend taking the Pacific island nation as an example. “We need a coordinated approach, and we need it now,” Menchetty stressed.