European hearth ant chemical compounds might ship spiders scurrying away

To make a spider flee, carry on the hearth ants. Or fairly, simply their chemical indicators.

Some spiders frequent in North American houses keep away from constructing their webs in chambers that lately housed European hearth ants, researchers report Could 19 in Royal Society Open Science. The ants most likely left behind chemical traces, the researchers say. That would sign hazard to the arachnids as a result of ants generally feast on spiders. The response hints that the bugs is perhaps a source of pure spider-repelling chemical compounds.

“Lots of people are afraid of spiders, and there’s nothing in the marketplace that’s dependable that retains the spiders away,” says Andreas Fischer, an arachnologist at Simon Fraser College in Burnaby, Canada.

Fischer and his colleagues housed false black widow spiders (Steatoda grossa) in a glass container with three related chambers. The arachnids have been much less prone to cool down in empty compartments that had as soon as contained European hearth ants (Myrmica rubra), an invasive species in North America. Different spider species — black widow (Latrodectus hesperus), cross (Araneus diadematus) and hobo (Eratigena agrestis) — additionally had an aversion to the previous hearth ant chambers. 

The discovering is thrilling however not prepared for real-world use, Fischer says. “I actually hope that individuals don’t go on the market and get European hearth ants into their backyard to do away with spiders.” The ants are aggressive, “horrendous pests” with stinging bites and are powerful to do away with. One other kind of fireside ant (Solenopsis invicta) native to South America is among the many costliest invasive species on the earth (SN: 3/31/21).

The crew plans to pinpoint what chemical spooks the spiders and determine if it may be made within the lab. Then the researchers will be sure the potential spider repellent isn’t poisonous or a homing beacon for ants.

“That’s the very last thing we wish, that we do away with spiders however appeal to ants,” Fischer says. 

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