A crusade to invade that began in North Carolina has spread to the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and even to an island packed with concrete and glass – Manhattan.
So go the travels of the Asian needle ant, an invasive species native to Japan.
Citizen scientists connected with the School of Ants project – which asks amateur scientists to find and report on what’s crawling near their homes and schools – are unearthing Asian needle ants far away from the Carolinas.
Asian needle ants don’t play well with native ants, says Dr. Rob Dunn, an associate professor of biology at NC State and founder of the School of Ants project. Native ant populations decline when Asian needle ants appear on the scene, while seed dispersal of native plants declines.
Plus, needle ant bites aren’t great for people. Some people who are bitten go into life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Dunn wants more citizen scientists to look for more ants in more parts of the country to see how far the Asian needle ants have spread. If caught in time, their populations can be controlled.
Read a blog post from Dunn for more information about the Asian needle ant and its journey across America.