A U.S. Export That Stings
Fire ants traveled on ships from their native South America to Mobile, Alabama, in the 1930s and spread through the Southeast. Solenopsis invicta has since sprung up in California, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Genetic tests directed by USDA researchers traced the origins of nine invasions. In all but one, the stowaways came from the southern United States.
Learn more about fire ants at the Encyclopedia of Life.