WORLD NEWS

We knew this day would come’: One of world’s most invasive species reaches Europe

Sep 11, 2023, 1:43 PM

Shown here is a close-up of a red fire ant, an invasive ant species that has spread around the worl...

Shown here is a close-up of a red fire ant, an invasive ant species that has spread around the world. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Rorabaugh

(CNN) — The red fire ant, one of the world’s most invasive species, has been found in Europe for the first time, according to a new study.

The imported ant, which has the scientific name Solenopsis invicta, is native to South America but has spread throughout much of the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, China, and Australia over the past century.

These insects can be aggressive when disturbed and they have a painful sting, which is irritating to the skin and can cause allergic reactions. The ant can also damage crops and local ecosystems.

Researchers said they had identified 88 red fire ant nests spread over 5 hectares near the city of Syracuse in Sicily, Italy.

“S. invicta is one of the worst invasive species. It can spread alarmingly quickly,” said lead study author Mattia Menchetti, a researcher at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Spain, in a statement.

“Finding this species in Italy was a big surprise, but we knew this day would come,” Menchetti said.

While red fire ants had been discovered in imported products in Spain, Finland and the Netherlands, a colony had never been confirmed before this study, the authors said.

The colonies were found in a suburban area of Syracuse. It was unclear how or when the fire ants got there. The researchers behind the study believe the insects must have arrived at a transit point with lots of human activity, such as the city’s port. Local people told the scientists that ant stings had increased since 2019.

The study suggested that wind could have transported flying queen ants from the northwest of Syracuse, where the commercial port is located.

Genetic analysis of the ants revealed that they had most likely spread from the United States or China, where Solenopsis invicta is also an invasive species. The ants could soon spread all over Europe, the researchers warned, since 7% of the continent — including large urban areas like Barcelona, Rome, London and Paris — has a climate that’s suitable for the species, according to a model made by the study authors.

The study was published Monday in the scientific journal Current Biology.

Invasive species cost the world at least $423 billion every year as they drive plant and animal extinctions, threaten food security and exacerbate environmental catastrophes across the globe, according to a United Nations- backed report released last week.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

World News

A portrait of the iconic former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, painted by Graham Sutherl...

Associated Press

A painting of Winston Churchill by an artist whose work he hated is up for auction

A portrait of Winston Churchill by an artist whose work the British leader loathed went on display Tuesday at Churchill’s birthplace ahead of an auction in June.

10 hours ago

FILE: Getty Images...

Sylvia Hui, Associated Press

UK lawmakers will vote on a landmark bill to gradually phase out smoking

A plan by Britain’s government to introduce a landmark smoking ban that aims to stop young people from ever smoking is set to clear its first hurdle on Tuesday, despite vocal opposition from within Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party.

13 hours ago

ATHENS, GREECE - APRIL 16: Greek actress Mary Mina (R), playing the role of the High Priestess, lig...

Nicholas Paphitis

Despite weather glitch, the Paris Olympics flame is lit at the Greek cradle of ancient games

Even without the help of Apollo, the flame that is to burn at the Paris Olympics was kindled Tuesday at the site of the ancient games in southern Greece.

19 hours ago

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: The Sydney Opera House is illuminated with a black ribbon in honour o...

Mark Baker and Rod McGuirk

Horrified worshipers watch online and in person as a bishop is stabbed at a church in Sydney

Horrified worshipers watched in person and online as a bishop was stabbed at the altar during a church service in Sydney on Sunday evening.

2 days ago

A note is left with flower tributes near a crime scene at Bondi Junction in Sydney, Sunday, April 1...

Rick Rycroft and Keiran Smith, The Associated Press

Officer, bystanders hailed for confronting and stopping a man who killed 6 at a Sydney shopping mall

A police officer and several bystanders are being hailed for running “towards danger” to confront the attacker who stabbed and killed six people at a suburban Sydney shopping center.

2 days ago

President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Netanyahu, and made clear that the US would not participate...

Rob Picheta, CNN

Israel vows to ‘exact a price’ after unprecedented Iranian attack while world leaders call for restraint

Israel pledged that it will “exact a price” from Iran as the country weighs its response to an unprecedented overnight barrage of drone and missile strikes while facing international pressure to de-escalate.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

We knew this day would come’: One of world’s most invasive species reaches Europe