'Electric' ants seen in UK for first time
Sunday 02 August 2009
A species of super ant with a fatal attraction to electricity has been discovered marching through Hidcote Manor gardens in Gloucestershire, one of England's finest National Trust properties. It is thought to be the first time
Lasius neglectus, known as the Asian super ant, has been recorded in the UK, although the ants have been spotted in Germany, Hungary, France, Spain and Poland.
The species was first identified in Budapest 20 years ago and looks like a common black garden ant. Colonies at Hidcote have now been formally identified as Lasius neglectus, after investigation by English Heritage and the National Trust into infestations within the estate. The Asian super ant can form super-colonies, with many queens and interconnected nests spreading over a hectare. The queens breed with males from their own nest and quickly set up self-sufficient nests, even when separated from the main colony. The species is highly dependant on aphid honeydew and is associated with a range of tree species. Like American fire ants, their compulsion to follow electricity is stronger than their need for food or drink. Swarms of ants around electrical cables can cause blackouts.
Simon Ford, a nature conservation adviser for the National Trust in Wessex, said 35,000 ant carcasses were found inside just one electrical junction box in Hidcote. "The ants themselves pose little direct threat, as they don't bite people or pets. But their habit of creating super-colonies means they pose a threat to native species by outcompeting them for food and space, and the attraction to electrical circuitry means they could pose a fire risk," he said.
The super ant has so far proven resistant to traditional insect poison, so the National Trust is now working with pest controllers looking into options including bait systems and controlling their food source – aphids. Brian Ridout, an English Heritage entomologist, said their resemblance to the common ant may mean they have gone unnoticed at the estate for some time.
Justin Bieber was one of the hardest hit
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Church of England threatens to cease BP and Shell investments over climate concerns
Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind
Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim
Prince William attacks China over 'ignorant craving' for ivory
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...