Science

Why Argentine Ants Are The Most Successful Species On The Planet 

Hugh Landman
Updated September 15, 2017 1.3k views 10 items

There are plenty of super smart insects in the world, and Argentine ants are definitely one of them. These ants belong to extremely successful ant colonies that span the globe - making them one of the most successful creatures in the world in terms of survival. Their Argentine ant supercolony spans everywhere except Antarctica. 

What makes these ants so incredible? Some amazing Argentine ant facts include how they're able to work together to create their own mega-colony and repel harmful enemies, as well as how adept they are at staying alive. Don't judge these ants by their tiny size, they're some seriously powerful bugs. 

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Only One Ant Species Has Been Able To Repel Argentine Ants
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One reason Argentine ants have been able to create extremely successful ant colonies is that local ants have been unsuccessful at defending their habitats from them. That is, except for one. In California, winter ants have been observed poisoning their opponents. The ants create a chemical that is expelled when they are threatened and it instantly kills Argentine ants when it gets on their bodies. While they haven't stopped the invasion, winter ants are helping researchers learn more about how to fight the extremely resilient ants. 

These Ants Spread Their Empire Using Sea And Train Travel
These Ants Spread Their ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Why Argentine Ants Are The Most Successful Species On The Planet
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Argentine ants built a global empire by stowing away on boats and crossing continents on trains. Using modern transportation methods enabled them to spread their colonies from South America to North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Evolutionary biologists believe the first place outside of South America they settled was New Orleans in the late 1800s. From there, the mega-colony traveled to California and other locations across the globe.

Argentine Ants Are Vicious Warriors
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Other ants and insects do not want to fight Argentine ants. The invaders are extremely aggressive towards other species of ants and will fight together against larger ants and tear them limb from limb. Humans may even be making the ants more aggressive. A study in New Zealand showed that when Argentine ants and local ants were exposed to pesticides the local ants became less aggressive while the invading Argentine ants became much more aggressive, signaling the effect humans have on these creatures. 

Argentine Ants Are Genetically Similar No Matter Where On Earth They Are

What makes the Argentine ant so strong in its bonds with its ant brethren? Simple: genetics. Scientists aren't exactly sure why, but it appears that no matter where on Earth the Argentine ant lives, it shares almost exact genetics with other ants. This is not common among other animals, and it's what unifies them so well. It also means they don't attack one another, in fact, all Argentine ants appear to unify no matter if they're part of the same colony system. 

Scientists think the ants only attack other species because they are all related to the same queen ant