New Dominant Ant Species Discovered In Ethiopia

Posted: Nov 25 2016, 4:12am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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New Dominant Ant Species Discovered in Ethiopia
This is a Lepisiota dispatching Pheidole ant. Credit: D. Magdalena Sorger
  • New dominant ant species discovered in Ethiopia shows potential for global invasion

A novel ant species from Ethiopia may spread all around the world.

A group of researchers carried out some surveys in the forests of Ethiopia recently. They came upon a hardy species of ants called Lepisiota canescens. These ants can form supercolonies.

That in itself is a troublesomee sign of future invasion by these ants which are a rabid brand of insect. This discovery carries special meaning for two reasons.

Firstly, supercolonies are rare with only 20 such species on a global level. Secondly, other species within this genus have a reputation for being a nuisance too.

There have been spots that had to be closed down temporarily due to invasions by these ants. If they spread worldwide, it could be a case of these harmful vectors disturbing the eco-balance of the planet.

These findings were published in the journal Insectes Sociaux in November.

In Ethiopia, forests often surround churches. Some of these are 1500 years old. The forest sizes span the gamut from a few hectares to more than a thousand acres.

The ant previously mentioned is a native of the region. Yet it is now shifting to other regions that have had their environmental balance disturbed in the process.

Now the loci in which these ants are found include roads, urban works and agricultural fields. This is just the start of a massive invasion by these ants.

This species which is a part of the fauna found lurking in Ethiopian soil, has the potential to spread around the global village. Such invasive species often travel in tandem with human beings especially tourists.

Once they find their way to other nations, it will be a full-fledged disaster that we will have to sort out. All that will be needed for an invasion to be successful is a pregnant queen ant.

When you come to think about it, this is also how fire ants started in the first place. Supercolonies consist of multiple nests. These often stretch out for thousands of miles of territory.

The capability of these supercolonies to spread is phenomenal. They are a prime example of a rogue nature that spreads like crazy once it has taken hold of an area.

In the study, the ants were examined with reference to their habits including what they ate and how they reproduced. Their explosive population growth is something that has to be checked. This species may prove to be a new challenge for future times. It is indeed an ant that mankind has to be wary of.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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