- Linepithema humile, Argentine ant
- Not Applicable ()
The largest recorded contiguous colony of ants in the world stretches 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) from northern Italy, through the south of France to the Atlantic coast of Spain, and is made up of a species of Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) introduced into Europe approximately 80 years ago.
The ants have shown the ability to recognize each other even though they may come from opposite ends of the colony. The discovery of the "supercolony" is the result of research carried out by Swiss, French and Danish scientists whose findings were published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Research suggests that the Argentine ant supercolony could even straddle oceans. Based on behavioural observations and genetic comparisons, related Argentine ants have been found not just living across Europe, but also in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hawaii and California, USA. It's believed the supercolony originated in South America some 100 years ago, before spreading around the world – in part via cargo on ships.
The workers of this species are 2–3 millmetres in length.