Plastics and insects: Records of ants entangled in synthetic fibers

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Scientists uncover impacts of microplastic pollution on some of the Earth’s smallest creatures: ants and other insects.

Abstract: 1) Plastic pollution is an emerging environmental risk, as it may negatively impact many species. 2) However, much remains to be studied in terrestrial invertebrates, since the information in which this pollutant interacts with insects and soil fauna in natural environments is still limited. 3) Here, we present records of two ant species, Lasius grandis (Forel, 1909) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and Monomorium sp. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), found entangled in synthetic fibres at the summit broom shrubland and canary pine forest in the island of La Palma (Spain), respectively. 4) To our knowledge, this is one of the first reports of ants and other insects being entangled in plastics. 5) Despite our small sample size, this interaction could be more widespread. 6) Among other effects, ants could be transporting small plastic fragments to different soil horizons, but a greater knowledge of ants and other soil invertebrates interacting with plastics would help to improve our understanding of the relationship of this emerging pollutant with soil fauna in ecosystems with different degrees of human use.

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