Since ants are probably the most frequently spotted of all insect species, it can be easy to overlook their importance to the world’s ecosystems. Ants are so abundant in the wild that you are likely to encounter several within a mere ten seconds after walking out your front door. In addition to being the most abundant insect group on the planet, it is probable that researchers have not yet documented even half of the existing ant species currently inhabiting earth. At the moment, there exists more than 16,000 documented species of ants in the world, but more are being discovered all the time. For example, Brian Fisher, an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences, traveled to Madagascar back in 1993, and since then, he has discovered more than 1,000 new ant species on the island country alone. While in Madagascar, Fisher became distressed to discover that the island’s rapid deforestation was killing-off many insect species, especially ants, even ones that had not yet been discovered. While it is crucial for scientists to gain a better understanding concerning the effects of deforestation on insect life, ant populations around the world are, by no means, getting smaller in number. In fact, many ant species seem to be moving to new areas of the world where they are not native. Due to the adaptability of ants, these non-native ants are rapidly establishing invasive colonies in regions all over the world, and this is having a devastating and possibly world changing effect on several types of ecosystems.
While nearly all countries must face some degree of struggle in their attempts to control invasive ant populations, it could be argued that no country in the world has been as negatively affected by invasive ants as much as Australia has. Invasive ants in Australia may very well cause environmental catastrophes that will be unlike anything that has occured on earth in the past. At the very least, six invasive ant species have infiltrated Australia, and they have already caused extensive damages to the country’s infrastructure, crops, wildlife and even humans. Across the Pacific in the Galapagos, agricultural workers have completely abandoned profitable coffee and citrus crops, as they can no longer tolerate the painful stings inflicted by the invasive fire ants that dwell in the area’s agricultural regions. Invasive ants are costing governments in many countries millions, or even billions of dollars in crop damages alone. When taking every region of the world into consideration, the five most damaging and economically costly ant species include yellow crazy ants, red imported fire ants, Argentine ants, African big-headed ants and little fire ants.
After reading this blog article do you feel as though you have underestimated the extent of ant-induced disturbances around the world?