A team of researchers from the University of Gerona in Spain found that huge numbers of insects are shipped across the world unwittingly. The researchers also warned that a lot of insects were establishing the colonies in new habitats, which in turn could be disadvantageous for the human health, infrastructure and environment.
The lead author of the study Veronica Miravete explained that because of the small size, a lot of ants were transported involuntarily in the boxes and containers along with ornamental plants, wood, fruits and soil via the airplanes and the ships.
The research team found out about the numbers of exotic ants in New Zealand, the US and the Netherlands. A lot of these ants were discovered than what had been reported earlier. It was estimated that 768 exotic ant species were introduced in the world through the trade routes. Out of these, around 600 species have already established their own new colonies in the different places of the world.
Veronica Miravete, in the meanwhile, also explained that the number of ants which were arriving was very huge and around 85 percent of the newly introduced species of the ants were establishing themselves very successfully. The research indicated towards the fact that a lot of newly introduced species were living around the humans and that these were still undetected.
It is important to note that all the animals which move to the new regions are not a threat to the environment and the human health, but some of these animals pose serious threats and wreak havoc. Invasive ants are among those animals which pose a threat.
The aggressive Argentina ants have built their own mega-colonies in Europe and they are also out-competing the population of local ants. This in turn can ripple the entire ecosystem. In the meanwhile, in the US, there is an invasion of the South America's Rasberry crazy ants, which in turn causes a lot of problems because these insects swarm inside the electrical equipment. Another concern is that of the spread of fire ants.
The researchers explained that there was a need of halting the spread of the pests like these because in case the exotic ants establish their colonies in new regions, it becomes difficult to eradicate them.
In order to curb this, there are certain methods such as black lists, quarantine inspections and pre-border risk assessments. However, the major focus needs to be done on the shipping routes from the regions where there is higher probability of introduction of these exotic species of ants.