Argentine ants plot global domination

July 13, 2009

Humanity’s inevitable subjugation under the merciless lash of the invertebrates came one step closer today, as the BBC reports the encirclement of the globe by a vast, unbroken colony of Argentine ants.

Scientists presently cowering in Japan, Europe and the United States discovered a horrifying degree of fraternisation between geographically-disparate colonies of Linepithema humile, a species of ant once endemic to South America. Unwittingly, clay-footed humans have introduced the sextuped horde to every continent save Antarctica.

The ants are implacably hostile to other L. humile individuals who are not demonstrably members of their own colony. Kinship is gleaned from specific chemical signals issued from the ants’ carapaces.

Researchers have shown, for example, that encounters between the dominant European super-colony and the smaller Catalan colony inevitably result in scuffles; the sunburnt Europeans boistrously guzzle sangria and toss garden furniture into the pool, whilst mustachioed Iberian ants casually grope European females and overcharge for accommodation.

Somewhat unexpectedly, however, when ants from the European super-colony met representatives from the Japanese super-colony, it was all smiles. The ants “rubbed antennae with one another, never became aggressive, or tried to avoid one another.” Similar behaviour was observed between the Californians and Japanese, and indeed the Californians and Europeans.

The only plausible explanation, researchers claim, is that ants from the three dominant super-colonies are more closely related to one another than they are to members of the minor colonies.

“Absence or low levels of aggression at transcontinental scale, which may have derived from low genetic variation, may help introduced Argentine ants maintain expansive supercolonies,” the puny humans report in Insectes Sociaux.

“The enormous extent of this population is paralleled only by human society,” they continue.

Readers tempted to quote Kent Brockman are hereby relieved of duty.