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Electricity-Loving Ant Is Bullying Out the Locals

Jul 25, 2014 04:01 PM EDT
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Experts are worried that an unusual and invasive species of ant is moving across England, bullying out local species while threatening utilities with their unhealthy attraction to electricity.

These fire ants, or "Asian super ants" were reportedly first seen in the United Kingdom in 2009, where more than 35,000 were discovered - mostly dead - under a National Trust property in Gloucestershire county.

These ants live in massive inter-dependant colonies that commonly do not compete with one another. Instead, they spend their time farming aphid honeydew.

However, according to BBC News, the ants have also been found to have an unusual "kamikaze attraction" to electricity - potentially being more drawn to high voltage sources than drink or food. Common sugar ants have also been found to be drawn to electrical sources, likely due to the resonance of the electricity or the soft warmth some sources emit. But the attraction of these fire ants far exceeds the natural expectations.

"Their habit of creating super-colonies means they pose a threat to native species by out-competing them for food and space, and their attraction to electrical circuitry means they could pose a fire risk," Simon Ford, nature conservation advisor for the National Trust, told BBC in 2009. "Researchers have feared for several years that this species would make it to the UK."

Now, nearly five years later, it is believed that a building in Hedon has been invaded by the same "super ants" - nearly 100 miles from the first discovery.

A spokesperson from the pest control firm Cleankill, who tackled the invasion, told Mail Online that these particular ants were more difficult to kill than native species and were likely already spreading to more satellite colonies connected to the first in a strategy called "budding."

Does this mean that more homes will be reporting the electricity-loving pests? Experts are saying that it is likely, but what can be done about them remains to be seen.

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