Argentine ants altering California’s ecosystems

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Are Argentine Ants taking over and killing native species of ants and upsetting the ecosystem they control?

SANTA CRUZ -- Lisa Cliggett expected a relaxing beach side escape when she stayed at a friend's apartment in Santa Cruz in October.

Instead, the Kentucky woman found herself waging war on a freezer full of Argentine ants.

Thousands of them had set up shop inside the appliance's insulation, and a steady stream of tiny bodies poured out of the cracks to forage in the kitchen. "There was a fortress within the freezer walls," said Cliggett, who set out baits but still spent nearly an hour a day wiping up the fallen soldiers' carcasses.

For millions of Californians, Argentine ants can be the stuff of nightmares. But their persistent presence in Northern California homes is merely one symptom of a larger problem -- these invasive ants are out-competing native ant species and, in doing so, fundamentally altering California's ecosystems. And by giving them shelter in our homes, we're unwittingly helping them do it.

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