England is threatened by non-native “super ants” forming giant colonies and destroying power lines

2009 - 08 - 01
AntWeb.org image of Order:Hymenoptera Family:Formicidae Genus:Lasius Species:Lasius neglectus Specimen:casent0173143 View:profile

The invasive Lasius neglectus ant species has begun to threaten Great Britain. The ant forms colonies up to 100 times larger than the original ants, and often destroys power lines.

While the Lasius neglectus ant looks similar to the ordinary black garden ant, the number of ants working together in their colonies tends to be 10 to 100 times greater than normal. At the same time, these ants are attracted by electric current and form swarms in fuse boxes and around electric cables. They often cause power outages, including fires.

A colony of about 35,000 ants was discovered in a fuse box at Manor Gardens in the Gloucestershire County. These gardens are listed as a national landmark in Great Britain, and the discovery of these ants at the location caused a huge stir. They were noticed by the workers who recorded dead ants around electric cables. Moreover, these invasive ants are resistant to commonly used household insect control products.

Over the past 20 years, this species of ant began entering Europe from Asia in imported houseplants. In addition, these Asian ants can create giant colonies with numerous queens and cooperate with other ant colonies on and area of least one hectare. Unlike the original ant species, the individual colonies do not attack each other, and together they can infest larger areas much quicker.

“The spread of larger numbers of invasive species in Europe shows that the continent pays a high tax on its imports from the other side of the world. Without restrictions on imports and a simultaneous tightening of controls against animal and plant intruders, there will be a growing level of damage in Europe,” warned Director Dalibor Dostal of the European Wildlife conservation organization.

Photo: April Nobile / Wikimedia

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