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Scary! Ants form Global Mega-Colony

A single mega-colony of ants has colonised much of the world, scientists have discovered.

Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile)

Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile)

Argentine ants living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan belong to the same inter-related colony, and will refuse to fight one another.

The colony may be the largest of its type ever known for any insect species, and could rival humans in the scale of its world domination.

What’s more, people are unwittingly helping the mega-colony stick together.

Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) were once native to South America. But people have unintentionally introduced the ants to all continents except Antarctica.

These introduced Argentine ants are renowned for forming large colonies, and for becoming a significant pest, attacking native animals and crops.

In Europe, one vast colony of Argentine ants is thought to stretch for 6,000km (3,700 miles) along the Mediterranean coast, while another in the US, known as the “Californian large”, extends over 900km (560 miles) along the coast of California. A third huge colony exists on the west coast of Japan.

While ants are usually highly territorial, those living within each super-colony are tolerant of one another, even if they live tens or hundreds of kilometres apart. Each super-colony, however, was thought to be quite distinct.

But it now appears that billions of Argentine ants around the world all actually belong to one single global mega-colony.

Source and more info: Earth News

YouTube Preview Image

Short video of Linepithema humile, aka the Argentina Ant, possibly the most invasive ant species on the planet?

 

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4 thoughts on “Scary! Ants form Global Mega-Colony”

  1. Parodia says:

    They have as much right to the world as we do.

  2. Kris says:

    No one’s saying they don’t have the right, Parodia. This article is, however, breaking the human-centric notion that we are the only species capable of spreading across the globe. Interesting how they’ll fight with their neighbors but not relatives, even from other countries. How many humans can even tolerate family members in their own house?

  3. casey says:

    There’s a lot of anthropomorphism going on in these two comments. Rights? Tolerance? They’re robot-like insects who are practically blind to anything but chemical signals and we’re primates who have evolved highly complex social rules. Concepts like rights and tolerance don’t exist in their world.

  4. Zach says:

    Casey, do you actually know that? Have you ever spent any time as an ant? Sure, in all reality, we can believe that is all the ant knows and thinks because of what we’ve learned from science, but we can never be 100% sure. Absence of evidence does not refute anything.

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