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Invasion Alert! Supercolony of Ants Set To Take Over The Planet, Research Suggests

Nov 29, 2016 03:50 AM EST
A supercolony of ants found in Ethiopian forests is set to invade the globe, a new study suggests.
(Photo : Anhari Lubis/Getty Images)

A supercolony of ants found in Ethiopian forests is set to invade the globe, a new study suggests.

According to the researchers, the infamous ant species, Lepisiota canescens, is displaying signs of supercolony formation and this could be a global threat.

Fox News reported that supercolony formation is used to describe the ability to expand limitless.

Ants that form supercolony can invade homes and other structures, as well as damage crops, and can cover thousands of miles, United Press International reported.

"The species we found in Ethiopia may have a high potential of becoming a globally invasive species," study author D. Magdalena Sorger, a postdoctoral researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, said in a statement.

"Invasive species often travel with humans, so as tourism and global commerce to this region of Ethiopia continue to increase, so will the likelihood that the ants could hitch a ride, possibly in plant material or even in the luggage of tourists.

"All it takes is one pregnant queen," she added. "That's how fire ants started."

The supercolony of L. canescens was found in the ancient church forests of Ethiopia.

The largest they found is one that stretches to roughly 24 miles in length. This could be the largest supercolony documented in an ant species living in its native habitat, the researchers noted. The researchers also discovered that the ants are also moving to other areas such as beyond forest boundaries, into neighboring agricultural fields, and along recently constructed roads and other urban structures.

CNBC notes that ants that form supercolonies are rare because in general, ants are territorial. In fact, of the hundreds of thousands known ant species, only 20 have shown this kind of behavior behavior.
Details about the new dominant ant species was described in a new paper published in the journal Insectes Sociaux.

L. canescens has previously caused trouble in South Africa's Kruger National Park and has temporarily shut down Australia's Darwin Port.

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