Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pesky ants found in Hawaii demonstrate invasive characteristics

02.11.2011
A common pest in the mainland United States known for its tropical smell now has a tropical habitat to go along with it.

Odorous house ants - so called because they tend to invade houses and smell like coconut when smashed - have found their way to Hawaii. And, according to Purdue University entomologist Grzegorz Buczkowski, it doesn't seem as though they have plans to end their vacations.

"Odorous house ants in Hawaii are not like they are here in natural areas where they live in small colonies. They are creating megacolonies like they do in urban areas," said Buczkowski, whose findings were published in the journal Myrmecological News. "We went there to eliminate the ants, but we found it's too late to treat for them."

In the continental United States, odorous house ants are especially troublesome because they are difficult to remove, Buczkowski said. A nest might be eliminated at one house, but other nests could be in nearby yards, allowing the ants to come back.

"It's one of the worst, if not the worst, pest species in homes," Buczkowski said.

Buczkowski said it's too soon to know what the effect of odorous house ants will be on Hawaii's native plant and animal species, but he wants to monitor the ecosystem around their nests.

Of concern is how the ants might react to Hawaii's climate. On the mainland, odorous house ants go dormant in winter, but with Hawaii's favorable year-round temperatures, the ants could continue to eat and expand much faster than in their native range.

In natural settings, odorous house ants live about 50 to a colony with one queen, often taking up residence in acorns or other small spaces. But Buczkowski's previous research has shown that when odorous house ants move into urban areas, colony sizes explode. On the Purdue campus, for example, Buczkowski has found a colony with 5 million workers and about 25,000 queens.

In Maui, the ants are taking up residence on the western slopes of the Haleakala volcano among some small farms, somewhat like the natural settings where the ants are found on the mainland. But despite a more natural setting in Maui, they're forming large colonies. Buczkowski said he estimated the Maui invasion is a single supercolony with more than 300 nests and multiple queens per nest covering more than 45 acres.

It's likely the ants stowed away on a ship, but Buczkowski said he's still stunned they made such a long journey from their native area.

"They aren't supposed to be in Hawaii," Buczkowski said. "To go from the mainland to Hawaii, more than 2,500 miles over the sea, is amazing."

The ants are also thriving among several inhospitable ant species, such as invasive Argentine and big-headed ants, which are aggressive toward other ant species.

"They didn't just invade a place that was free of ants and gain a foothold. They are in the middle of other ants and thriving," Buczkowski said. "If odorous house ants can get established there, they can get established anywhere. They could be invasive anywhere in the world."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture and DuPont funded Buczkowski's research.

Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-496-2050, bwallhei@purdue.edu

Source: Grzegorz Buczkowski, 765-494-6314, gbuczkow@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page

Brian Wallheimer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.purdue.edu

Further reports about: Odorous house ants Pesky ants agriculture tropical habitat urban areas

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

nachricht Unusual soybean coloration sheds a light on gene silencing
20.06.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>