Did You Know Pesticides Could Help Preserve European Biodiversity?

Multiple fire ants attacking a caterpillar.

South American red fire ants have just been found in Europe [1] They are one of the world’s most damaging and invasive alien species, having already spread throughout the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean, China, Taiwan, and Australia. They have a painful venomous bite, and can kill or injure native species, including lizards, frogs and small mammals [1]. They can also cause life-threatening allergic reactions in some people. 

Once established, it is not possible to get rid of them. Experience has shown that decisive use of insecticides to eradicate fire ants as soon as they are detected is the only way to prevent their establishment. This was successfully achieved in New Zealand [2]. Regulations which enable EU member states to react rapidly and authorise use of pesticides when first detecting invasive species such as red fire ants will be critical, including sensitive areas [3] such as parks, recreational and sports grounds.

[1] Invasive fire ants have made it to Europe - and they’re likely to spread as the climate heats up | Euronews (euronews)

[2] Red Imported Fire Ant, Whirinaki (Farm Forestry New Zealand)

[3] Sustainable use of pesticides (European Commission)