Genetic Tests by Department of Agriculture Show Fire Ants in Asia Came from the United States

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WASHINGTON (AP).- Even as the United States battles the spread of fire ants within its borders, this country is serving as the jumping-off point for the pest to invade other nations. The aggressive, stinging ants arrived from South America and got a foothold in the United States in the 1930s, gradually spreading across the South. Now, researchers say, the United States has become the springboard in the last 20 years for the ants to invade such distant locations as China, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. Genetic tests on fire ants in the newly invaded countries found they came from the United States, rather than South America, an international team of researchers reports in Friday’s edition of the journal Science. The genetic profile of all these ants is closer to fire ants in the U.S., explained Marina Ascunce of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. “I thought that at least one of the populations in the newly invaded areas would have come from S