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  • A six legs invasion

    Solenopsis invicta in Sicily

    The establishment of Solenopsis invicta, known as red imported fire ant, was reported in Europe for the first time by a scientific paper documenting the detection of a mature population in Sicily. The ant is classified as one of the world worst invasive alien species and as the fifth costliest worldwide, impacting ecosystems, agriculture and human health.

    S. invicta is frequently encountered in urban and peri-urban areas, and due to its painful stings able to cause anaphylactic shocks and the characteristic large nest mounds Citizen science may play a key role in its detection. In Europe, there have been at least three documented interceptions of S. invicta in the past, in Spain, Finland, and the Netherlands, but no establishment of the insect was observed.

    The published study documented the presence of 88 ant nests extending over about 4.7 ha in Sicily (Italy), near the city of Syracuse.

    How the species reached this site it is not yet clear, but no large landscaping or planting projects seem having taken place over the last few years and it is highly unlikely that it represents the first arrival point and the only occupied location in the area.

    Future projections depict a far worse scenario, in which the suitable range of S. invicta is expected to increase largely.

    For more information you can read the article.

    You can help stop the spread of alien species using the JRC App and reporting your observations.