Stopping the Spread of the Complex Red Fire Ant

Australia is fighting against the spread of red fire ants. This pest has invaded other countries such as the US. Nothing seems to work to stop their malicious takeover. They give a nasty bite. It was thought to be a simple kind of ant but studies have shown it to be a complex creature.

It has two distinct variants in its social structure. Normally colonies keep their distance. On the other hand, many colonies do form a supercolony where queens work together and breed in safety. Ants of the supercolony do kill queens of isolated colonies.

The ants are different genetically. Queens of individual colonies are fatter. This is to feed the first larvae when they start the colony. Queens who work together never need the "boost" fat. The change of a single gene dramatically changes physicality and behavior. It is contentious as to whether there will be an evolutionary winner. We just do not know at this stage.

It is hoped that chemicals producing violent behavior can be identified and used against the pest. Could this be interfering in the evolution of a species? Of course it is. We have been selecting for preferential genes in many animals and plants for thousands of years.
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