Invasive species of ants discovered in Evansville

Invasive species of ants discovered in Evansville
Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 5:04 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 3:43 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - An invasive species of ants has been discovered in Evansville.

The Asian Needle Ant is not native to the U.S. and has been discovered in the Howell Wetlands area.

Austin Heckelsberg says he was walking through Howell Wetlands to take photos of insects back in January. He then noticed an ant that didn’t look like most others.

He took high-quality photos and sent a sample to Purdue University. They confirmed it was the Asian Needle Ant, which is the first official sighting in Indiana.

“There are definitely some mixed feelings from me,” Heckelsberg said. “Being an entomology enthusiast, it was great to find new species in the state. But at the same time, it’s not a new species that I’m glad to see here in the state.”

An entomologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Angela Rust, says the invasive species could affect our habitat.

Rust says native ants help with dispersing plant seeds throughout a given area and these Asian Needle Ants may displace the native species.

“Also this ant species does sting. And while it’s not aggressive as the imported fire ants are, it can sting with quite a big impact,” Rust says. “It’s a painful sting.”

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