Feb. 4th, 2010

Every house I've lived in in California had ants. You'd see them more or less often depending on the season, and they basically made it a bad idea to keep any unsealed food -- on discovery of some dab of peanut butter or cough drops, say, a single scout would leave a trail of scent that brought five more, that brought hundreds more -- and suddenly you notice trails of thousands of ants heading for the new El Dorado of food.

It was an unexpected pleasure to discover this house had NO ANTS when we moved in. But alas, about 14 months later, the little buggers found their way up four stories of dusty new construction and one day I saw a scout in the bathroom. And just a few days later, we had our first attack when they found a sticky sugary slick on the floor where some drink mix had spilled and not been fully scrubbed.

I used to keep the little guys (Argentine Ants) under control by putting bait stakes around the foundation of the house. Hard to do here since there's no soil on three sides of the house. Just killing, cleaning, and removing food sources. Sigh.
According to research published in Insectes Sociaux in 2009, it was discovered that ants from three Argentine ant supercolonies in America, Europe and Japan, that were previously thought to be separate, were in fact most likely to be genetically related. The three colonies in question were one in Europe, stretching 6,000 km (3,700 miles) along the Mediterranean coast, the "Californian large" colony, stretching 900 km (560 miles) along the coast of California, and a third on the west coast of Japan.
Based on a similarity in the chemical profile of hydrocarbons on their cuticles of the ants from each colony, and on the ants non-aggressive and grooming behaviour when interacting, compared to their behaviour when mixing with ants from other super-colonies from the coast of Catalonia in Spain and from Kobe in Japan, researchers concluded that the three colonies studied actually represented a single global super-colony.
The researchers stated that "enormous extent of this population is paralleled only by human society", and had probably been spread and maintained by human travel.[4]



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