The Argentine Ant on Mediterranean Shores

  • Arne Jernelöv


The Argentine ant originates as the popular name indicates from South America and the river La Plata region. It has become a successful invader in many parts of the world that have a Mediterranean-type climate, but nowhere more so than on the northwestern shore of the Mediterranean itself. A key to its invasive success is its tendency to form supercolonies outside its natural distribution area, which allows a much higher density of individuals than opposing native ant species can muster. The largest known supercolony stretches 6000 km from northwestern Iberia via France to Italy and is thought to consist of several billion workers and tenths of millions of queens. Over this area, it dominates the ant community and has replaced native species, even if not driven them to extinction. Cascading effects on animals and plants, of the sort that has been documented elsewhere, are more or less self-evident, even as few have been reported from this area.

The initial explosive population development appears to have leveled off, but there are, as yet, no signs of a collapse. So, well over 100 years after its introduction, the Argentine ant is ruling its European fortress.


Argentine ant Invasive Mediterranean shores Supercolonies Replacement of native ant species Economic effects 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arne Jernelöv
    • 1
  1. 1.Swedish Institute for Future StudiesJarpasSweden

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