The electric ant, also known as the “little fire ant” or Wasmannia auropunctata, is native to South America. It had already spread to Australia, China and the United States. Until then, this species had only been recorded in Europe in Malaga, Spain.
However, it was recently detected in mainland France, in Toulon, near a residence. According to experts, it would be a super-colony, which would therefore have arrived in the territory more than a year ago, as reported by La Dépêche.
This species is described as “opportunistic”: in fact, it does not build very elaborate nests, and can nest in all slightly warm and shady places, such as piles of leaves, garbage, or even furniture.
The electric ant is also very resistant. It is said to be “thermotolerant”, and can therefore be active in an environment ranging from 1°C to 43°C. In addition, this species practices both sexual and asexual reproduction: it is capable of cloning itself.
Global warming, urbanization and intensive agriculture are the causes cited as being at the origin of the beginning of the establishment of this species in France. Worrying establishment, especially since the eradication of these insects has a very high cost: the state of Queensland in Australia has already spent more than 30 million dollars since the arrival of the species on this territory in 2006.
These little ants are red, and barely measure a millimeter. Here are 5 questions and answers on the potential implications of their presence in France.