Last week, we looked at what are invasive ants, where do they mostly come from and how do they disperse. This week, we will cover what impacts they have and how ant invasions can be prevented and controlled.
Invasive ants can negatively impact agriculture and forestry. Many species directly damage plants by eating fruit and seeds, tunneling into stems and removing bark from seedlings. Some ant species farm phytophagous sap feeding insects such as aphids, scale insects or mealybugs for the honeydew they produce. This may result in high densities of the sap-feeding insects that may reduce crop productivity and even cause host plant death. Ants increase the risk of disease transmission to plants by enhancing populations of insects that can be virus and bacteria vectors.
Invasive ants have the potential to severely affect human health and social amenity. Several species of invasive ants such as red imported fire ant and little fire ant have extremely painful stings that can cause anaphylactic shock in persons allergic to the ants’ venom and blindness in animals when stung in the eyes. Many ant species can damage infrastructure, especially electrical equipment by chewing through wires, causing short-circuits and sometimes fires.