Stand by for invaders

There can be no doubt about it: in their own way, ants are geniuses. They take advantage of whatever they can use to colonize their habitat and increase their empire; if need be, they even demonstrate an astonishing sense of innovation. Just as the attines invented agriculture, Formica lugubris or some species of Lasius were into the raising of livestock long before our own era. However, despite the admiration we may feel for their behaviours and ingenuity, ants are not unmitigated paragons of virtue. They can also become nuisances, cause harm, or turn into actual pests, for instance when they invade new territories.

Most native European species, and more generally those belonging to places with temperate climates, are unobtrusive and harmless. Admittedly, they don't mind coming into your house, invading kitchens or rummaging about in rubbish bins. It is especially in spring and summer that we can see these processions of little black Lasius niger or their cousins Lasius emarginatus with their tan thorax. If they find too few aphids to exploit, they will look inside houses for the sweetstuffs they need for their brood.

European red ants, as they are known, are more aggressive and can sting. However, these Myrmicinae, which inhabit fields and forests, will sting only if attacked or if their nest is disturbed. Generally speaking, they are insectivores, they live in small colonies and are not invasive.

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