Tuesday, 30 May 2023
Culture Modern Living

Beware the Killer Ants!

Batten down the hatches, they’re on their way!

Of course they are. Just as a few years earlier the killer bees, killer rats and swarms of killer locusts were scheduled to reach our shores. All we got was a luckless chilled Tarantula in a Sainsbury’s warehouse that had snuck in to a crate of imported bananas.

But this time it could be for real. Lasius neglectus, tagged the “super ant” by the ‘papers is chomping its way north since first coming to light in Budapest some 20 years ago. Although very similar to its common or garden cousin found in most British gardens, this micro-muncher has developed several behavioral differences that could signify troubling times ahead for green-fingered Brits. First, they are able to withstand colder temperatures (including frosts) that domestic ants find damaging. Second, unlike the domestic variety where queens desert colonies to mate, Lasius neglectus queens mate within the colony resulting in far greater numbers and “super colonies” holding 10 to 100 times more worker ants than a regular domestic ant colony.

The fear is that if these ants do reach British gardens, then there could be a major imbalance in certain ecosystems as far more insects compete for limited resources (hey, this is beginning to sound like a familiar story!) and since the invaders breed and colonize in greater numbers, they’ll soon overwhelm the native population.

I’m off to check the price of aardvarks on eBay.

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