Argentine ants are taking over the world thanks to their weirdly cooperative nature: When two Argentines meet, unlike most ant species, they won't attack each other even if they're from different nests—and even if those nests are on different continents. This behavior has let them take over large swaths of territory from other, less cooperative ants. Nests can have multiple queens, which mate and lay eggs for ten years. You might say Argentine ants have built one giant global nest. As a result, these South American natives are now established in North America, Africa, Australia, and Europe.
But all is not lost. In 2008, ecologists at Stanford University who were tracking the advance of the Argentines in an area near campus discovered that winter ants, native to California, secrete some sort of poison that repels and even kills the invaders. This video shows how.
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Eliene Augenbraun is a multimedia science producer, formerly Nature Research's Multimedia Managing Editor and Scientific American's senior video producer. Before that, she founded and ran ScienCentral, an award-winning news service providing ABC and NBC with science news stories. She has a PhD in Biology. Follow Eliene Augenbraun on Twitter