Common pesticides change odds in ant fights

Species’ combat success can rise or fall after repeated exposure to a nicotine-related insecticide

By Susan Milius, 10:58 AM October 24, 2013

Repeated nonlethal doses of a widely used pesticide can change the outcomes of fights between ant species.

Repetitive exposure to traces of nicotine-related pesticides called neonicotinoids may alter who wins when invasive species clash with natives, says entomologist Rafael Barbieri of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

In small battles that he and his colleagues staged in the lab, New Zealand’s native southern ant could exterminate an equal force of invasive Argentine ants in a...

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