FIRE ants from South America have been found in Europe for the first time in Marbella.
The ants, which can give humans a painful bite, have been known to blind dogs, cats, chickens, jaguars and even elephants.
Receiving a bite from the tiny ant has been described as ‘like receiving a small electric shock.’
Experts from the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) confirmed that the insect is occupying six hectares of an urbanization in the city.
Measuring just one millimetre in length CREAF were notified following a call to a pest control company about ‘very small and stinging’ ants in a crack in a wall.
CREAF researcher Xavier Espadaler has warned that to eradicate the ant, Marbella may need to ‘stop watering the gardens of the urbanization for two years.’
The finding of the invasive creature, published in the journal Iberomyrmex, is thought to have been in part due to increased temperatures on the Costa del Sol.
Native to Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Australia and South America, the fire ant is adapted to hot and humid climates.
“It is so small that it is practically undetectable; you have to know that it is there and search well,” added Espadaler.
“It is possible that it is already in other places and nobody has seen it.”