Bug Blog

Ant Supremacy: Argentine vs. Asian

Ant Supremacy: Argentine vs. Asian

For as long as researchers can remember the Argentine ant has been the top dog of the ant kingdom in the U.S. However, it looks like there’s a new cat in town, and they’re proving to be stiff competition for most badass ant in the country. The aggressive Argentine ant invaded the U.S. and immediately dominated with their impressive ability to create “supercolonies” made up of millions of workers and thousands of queens. They came, they saw, and they conquered every other ant species in the country…up until now.

Their reign may be at an end with the recent invasion of the Asian needle ant. Since 2008 the population of the Asian needle ant has gone from 9 percent to 37 percent in 2011, displacing a large portion of the Argentine ant colonies. When they first arrived, the Argentine ant chose to ignore this new species to their ultimate regret. “This is the first time we’ve seen another ant species take territory from Argentine ants,” says Spicer Rice, lead author of a paper on the research.

Scientists think that this is due to the Asian needle ants’ ability to tolerate cooler temperatures, able to become active to reproduce and build new nests much earlier in the season than any other ant species. Asian needle ants also have nasty venomous stingers that cause allergic reactions in some humans. So, be extra careful where you step if you happen to see ants nearby.

What do you think of this new invader? What kind of effects could this have on our ecosystem?