They've invaded every continent except Antarctica and they pose a threat to farmers and anyone trying to enjoy the outdoors.
Argentine ants have been spotted in Knoxville. Fortunately they're not popping up in places we need to worry about. WBIR 10News checked in with a group of math and biology undergrads from across the country studying the aggressive species of ants.
Aggressive! Invasive! That's how scientists describe Argentine ants.
NIMBios students say the Argentine ants have been spotted in Knoxville, just not in numbers or locations to alarm anyone.
"It's nice to see that they're not out here, because that means this park is not invaded by them. You would see the native species like seed harvesters, acrobat ants, and little black ants. These are the ants the Argentine ants actually compete with when they invade an area," explained SUNY Platteville student Brian Whyte.
The students are investigating a phenomenon known as a super colony - where ants can work together in groups of multiple colonies. The world's largest super colony stretches from Italy to Western Spain.
"Ants from separate nests sometimes miles apart even will treat each other as nest mates even though they come from separate nests. It's really strange to see in nature, because it involves these creatures treating strangers that they've never interacted with before as if they were kin, as if they came from the same nest," said White.
If all that science talk is over your head, you're not alone. UT Chattanooga math major Nikki Rooks is a newbie to the world of ants.
"I didn't know anything about ants before coming her; now I feel like I know a ton. Well a lot more than a lot of people," she said.
That's where the NIMBios program helps out, connecting biology and math students and guiding them through real-world experiments giving them more experience in their chosen field.
"It's a really good way to see it being used in the real world instead of just out of your text book or just because your teacher said something."