Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Invasive ants: 'Stowaway' insects spreading around world

Argentine ants  
Argentine ants have spread across Europe, but there are many more alien species
The problem of invasive ants may be far worse than previously thought.
A Spanish team of scientists has found that larger than expected numbers of the insects are being unwittingly shipped around the world.
The researchers warn that many of these species are establishing colonies in their new habitats that could pose a threat to the environment, infrastructure and human health.
The research is published in the journal Royal Society Biology Letters.
Lead author Veronica Miravete, from the University of Gerona in Spain, said: "Due to their small size, most ants are transported involuntarily in containers and other boxes, together with soil, wood, ornamental plants and fruits etc, on ships or airplanes."
Tiny globetrotters
The research team looked at the numbers of exotic ants in the Netherlands, the United States and New Zealand.
Fire ant Fire ants, with their painful stings, have been an unwelcome invasive species
They found far more of these accidental stowaways than had previously been reported.
Extrapolating from this data, they estimate that 768 exotic ant species could have been introduced around the world through trade routes.
Of these, they believe that more than 600 species could have established new colonies.
Dr Miravete said: "The number of ants arriving is very large and 85% of the introduced species are able to establish successfully. This indicates that there are many introduced species that are living around us as of yet undetected."
While not all animals that move to a new region pose a threat, some can wreak havoc - and invasive ants are some of the worst alien offenders.
In Europe, aggressive Argentine ants have been building mega-colonies, and they are out-competing local ant populations, which has sent ripples through the ecosystem.
And in the US, the invasion of South America's Rasberry crazy ants has caused a host of problems as the insects swarm inside electrical equipment.
The spread of fire ants has also been unwelcome because of their painful sting.
The researchers said that more needed to be done to halt the spread of these pests.
Dr Miravete said: "Once exotic ants establish a new region it is very difficult eradicate them.
"There are different methods to prevent alien species, such as pre-border risk assessments, black lists and quarantine inspections. But especially, we have to observe shipping routes from the regions with the highest probability of leading to introductions."


Manchester United get tough with Wayne Rooney

WAYNE ROONEY will not be sold to Chelsea - even if he puts in a written transfer request.

Wayne RooneyChelsea were confident of landing Wayne Rooney
The Blues have made two bids for the Manchester United star, the latest one of £25m.
But Old Trafford chiefs have decided Rooney is going nowhere, regardless of how much is offered.
The relationship between Rooney and the club is at an all-time low after the striker was left angered by old boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
David Moyes had said Rooney was back-up to Robin Van PersieDavid Moyes had said Rooney was back-up to Robin Van Persie
“The Glazers, who own the club, will automatically reject any further Chelsea offers out of principle”
Fergie claimed Rooney had expressed a desire to leave the club - but the England ace is adamant that's not the case.
The Glazers, who own the club, have now vowed to automatically reject any further Chelsea offers out of principle, according to a national newspaper.
And in a bid to keep Rooney in the best possible frame of mind, United will tell him they value his ability. This is despite David Moyes last month declaring him as back-up to Robin van Persie.
Rooney trains with England ahead of their clash with Scotland tonightRooney trains with England ahead of their clash with Scotland tonight
Getting Rooney firing is crucial to United's hopes of retaining the title.
While their rivals have spent big money on strengthening their squads, Moyes has been unable to add any new faces to the ranks.
He's seen midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Kevin Strootman opt for moves elsewhere while attempts to sign Leighton Baines have been knocked back.

Gareth Bale: I'll never play for Spurs again

GARETH BALE has vowed never to play for Tottenham again.

Gareth BaleGareth Bale says he'll never play for Spurs again
The 24-year-old star is upset that Spurs have still not agreed his move to Real Madrid.


And he's confided in his Wales team-mates that he'll never wear a Spurs shirt again, according to claims in one national newspaper.
A Wales insider told the paper: "Gareth is confused and bitter. He can't understand why Spurs have not agreed what would be the largest transfer fee in history.
"How could any player not be affected when he knows one of the world's biggest clubs has made a huge bid - but that the deal isn't progressing?
Bale has been training with WalesBale has been training with Wales
“One thing's certain, he'll not play for Spurs again”
A Wales insider
"One thing's certain, he'll not play for Spurs again."
Bale has been training with Wales before their friendly with Republic of Ireland tonight.
However, a foot injury means he will play no part in the game.
Spurs chairman Daniel LevySpurs chairman Daniel Levy

Steven Gerrard: I'll quit as England captain... and Jack Wilshere should replace me

STEVEN GERRARD has hinted he will quit England after next summer's World Cup - and nominated Jack Wilshere to succeed him as skipper.

Steven Gerrard tipped, Wilshere, captainSteven Gerrard has tipped Wilshere for the England captaincy
Three Lions captain Gerrard, 33, admitted his time at international level is fast running out.
But he is convinced Arsenal boy wonder Wilshere, 21, will inherit the armband once the Liverpool star's career is over.
Gerrard, who will win his 103rd cap against Scotland tonight, said: "Even though he's young, without adding pressure to Jack he's one of the best players in the squad.
"I'm sure when he gets to my age he will be sitting in my position with the armband on talking about another 100 cap player."
And would Wilshere succeed him as captain?
"I've got no doubt about that," he said.
Can Wilshere move into the forefront of the England set-up?Can Wilshere move into the forefront of the England set-up?
“Gerrard hailed Wilshere on the eve of England's first clash with Scotland since a 1-0 Wembley defeat in 1999”
Gerrard then went on to clarify his own position ahead of England's last friendly before four crucial World Cup qualifiers that will decide if Roy Hodgson's side make it to Brazil.
"I've got to assume it's my last year. I can't assume I'm going to be here in two or three years' time," he said.
"I've got to make the most of every single game. For all I know, I might be out of the picture in a year's time. I want to make the most of it."
Wilshere, who has been capped seven times, said: "It's a kid's dream to captain your country. Growing up, David Beckham was my role model. It's up to whoever is in charge but that would be a dream come true."
Gerrard feels WIlshere is already one of the best players in the squadGerrard feels WIlshere is already one of the best players in the squad
Gerrard hailed Wilshere on the eve of England's first clash with Scotland since a 1-0 Wembley defeat in 1999.
Gerrard said: "I know it is classed as a friendly but we want to beat Scotland.
"It hurt when Don Hutchison scored that only goal. It will probably be my last chance of playing them so if we get a win, it will be one I will remember for the rest of my life."
Elsewhere, Roy Hodgson will be wanting his players to be focus on tonight's big friendlyElsewhere, Roy Hodgson will be wanting his players to be focus on tonight's big friendly

Luiz Gustavo eager for Arsenal move as Napoli join race

ARSENAL target Luiz Gustavo has revealed his desire to leave current club Bayern Munich for the Premier League.

Bayern ace Luiz Gustavo
Gustavo said he needed to quit the Champions League winner to further his career, as first team football won't be guaranteed under new boss Pep Guardiola.
The Gunners have been linked with a £17m bid for the midfielder but are facing competition from Bundesliga side Wolfsburg who are also looking to strengthen before the start of the season.
Speaking before Brazil's friendly in Switzerland, Gustavo made it clear how much he'd like to player under Arsene Wenger this term.
He said: "My contract with Bayern runs until 2015, but it is very important that I play first-team football to keep getting called up for the national team.
"I have personal and professional reasons to move. I have heard about the Arsenal interest.
"It's a big club we're talking about here, so of course I'd like to play for them."
But the north London club will have to move quick as Napoli have reportedly joined the race for the Brazilian star's signature.
Gustavo has confirmed he's ready to leave Bayern MunichGustavo has confirmed he's ready to leave Bayern Munich
“I have personal and professional reasons to move. I have heard about the Arsenal interest.”
Arsenal target Luiz Gustavo
Fifa agent Giacomo Petralito revealed the Italian giants' interest, saying: "Even if it meant reducing your wages by 10 per cent, Napoli remain the top choice.
"It's not just for Rafa Benitez, but for the importance of the city and the project being developed.
"Luiz Gustavo is a very important player who would suit any club in Italy, not just Napoli. However, the Partenopei already have three midfielders of a good quality, so they'd have to sell one."

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel opens door to Napoli move

LIVERPOOL'S star centre-back Martin Skrtel has raised the possibility of leaving the club this summer.

Liverpool star Martin Skrtel
The Slovakian international has been linked with a move to Italian giants Napoli, with ex Anfield boss actively seeking to strengthen the team's backline
The 28-year-old is the second player being targeted by the ex Reds boss, having already sealed a deal for Pepe Reina.
The new Napoli chief signed Skrtel back in 2008, in a deal worth £6.5m from Russian side Zenit Saint Petersburg, and is facing added competition from former Manchester City star Kolo Toure and emerging star Andre Wisdom for a starting place.
Napoli boss Rafa BenitezNapoli boss Rafa Benitez
“Anything is possible”
 Martin Skrtel
And Skrtel has revealed he has several options open to him other than staying on Merseyside.
"Anything is possible," he told Sky Sports.
"There are alternatives, but my priority at the time is to recover from my injury."
Skrtel has gone on to make 206 appearances for the Reds since his move from Zenit St. Petersburg.
Skrtel joined Liverpool back in 2008Skrtel joined Liverpool back in 2008

WATCH: Luis Suarez back on goal trail for Uruguay after pledging Liverpool stay

LUIS SUAREZ was back smiling for Uruguay today, hours after confirming he'd stay at Liverpool.

Luis SuarezLuis Suarez has now said he wants to stay at Liverpool
Suarez told reporters before the game that he wouldn't be leaving at Liverpool.
And reports emerging from South America now suggest he could sign a new deal with the club.
On the pitch, Suarez netted the third goal for his country in a 4-2 friendly win over Japan.
Ex-Manchester United striker Diego Forlan scored twice while current star Shinji Kagawa was on the mark for Japan.
Suarez set up two more in his 90-minute stay on the pitch.
Luis Suarez celebrates with team-mate Diego ForlanLuis Suarez celebrates with team-mate Diego Forlan
High five, LuisHigh five, Luis
Suarez enjoys a nice cuddleSuarez enjoys a nice cuddle

Tottenham in 'preliminary' stage of Toby Alderweireld bid

TOTTENHAM are in the preliminary stages of securing a deal for Ajax star Toby Alderweireld.

Ajax star Toby Alderweireld
That's according to the Belgian star's father Vic, who also revealed Spartak Moscow were currently locked in negotiations with the Dutch champs.
He was quoted by Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad as saying: "Both teams are negotiating.
"If they come to an agreement, then we go around the table.
"After the weekend we will sit down together anyway to scroll through his options.

Toby Alderweireld looks likely to leave Ajax this summerToby Alderweireld looks likely to leave Ajax this summer
“We heard through the grapevine that Tottenham would take anything, but that's just preliminary”
Vic Alderweireld
"About ten days ago we heard through the grapevine that Tottenham would take anything, but that's just preliminary. "
Both Everton and Liverpool are thought to be keeping tabs on the 24-year-old, who has one year left on his contract.
Alderweireld made 45 appearances last season scoring four times as he and Ajax secured their third successive league title

IN PICS: Scotland's Tartan Army invade London ahead of England clash!

SCOTLAND'S Tartan Army have invaded London ahead of tonight's clash with England!

The Three Lions will host the 'Auld Enemy' at Wembley, the first meeting between the two sides in 14 years.
And fans from across the border are making the most of the rare occasion - filling the capital with saltires and the sound of bagpipes!
Around 25,000 Scottish fans are expected at the match, with more than 2,500 piling into Trafalgar Square by lunchtime today.
Michael Connell, 48, travelled down from West Lothian for the game - but he only has one thing on his mind tonight.
"If we win, there will be a party. If we lose there will be an even bigger party but it will have been after 90 minutes of inconvenience," he said.
"It would be sweet if we could get something, a win, over England. It would be the best feeling in the world.
"We are passionate and we like to party."
Scotland, England, fans, Tartan Army, Wembley, footballScottish fans soak up the sunshine in London's Trafalgar Square this afternoon
Wayne Rooney carries English hopes tonight - but he's only half-fitWayne Rooney carries English hopes tonight - but he's only half-fit
“If we win, there will be a party. If we lose there will be an even bigger party but it will have been after 90 minutes of inconvenience”
Michael Connell
And the partying Scots have proved they won't be surrendering their prime London spot at any point soon.
Amid the sea of blue and white flags, one schoolboy unfurled an England flag.
But he quickly pulled it down when it triggered a mass light-hearted chant of "What the f****** hell is that?" in his direction.
Scotland are ranked 50th in the Fifa rankings, with their fiercest rivals placed in 14th.
But the massed ranks of Scots are confident their side will overcome the odds against Roy Hodgson's team.
Oil worker Graham Johnston, from Aberdeenshire, said: "We have heart and that is what gets us through - right from the team, the players and the supporters. We are a small country with passion."
And, as one of his pals shouted: "We are rubbish at football but so are the English - they just think they are better!"