Experts fear a summer invasion of electric ants after a colony of up to a million was discovered.
The insects – also known as Asian Super Ants – get their nickname as they are attracted to cables and junction boxes and often cause fires.
Electric ants, officially named Lasius Neglectus, are native to Uzbekistan, Turkey and some parts of south-eastern Europe.
They arrived here in imported pot plants in 2009 and have since been found in Essex, London, Norfolk, Cambridge, Yorkshire and Suffolk.
The massive interconnected colony infesting two streets in Eastbourne, East Sussex, is being dealt with by pest controller Paul Bates.
He said If it wasn’t caught in time it could have spread. I would warn people to look out for them.
Electric ants can be very disruptive as they will gather around cables or junction boxes and can cause them to short out – this can result in blackouts and, in the worst cases, fires.
Our main worry is more have come into the UK in imported potted plants and that we will have difficulty getting rid of them as they are resistant to the treatments we would normally use for ants.
The biggest colony previously seen in the UK contained 35,000 ants in Gloucestershire in 2009.
The University of York estimated that electric ants could cost the UK £1.7bn every year through damage and management costs.
Dr Elva Robinson, a lecturer in ecology at the University of York, has said that electric ants – which look similar to black garden ants, but are more aggressive – could have a big impact on our native ecosystem.
She said We think the invasive ants have the potential to have a big impact on the native ecosystem. In the sites we have studied, it is clear they are excluding the native ants.
They are clearly dominating, and where they cluster, native species are being pushed out.
News Source MirrorNews