Fire ants, described as one of the most invasive species in the world, could be on their way to the UK after a large colony was found in Sicily, Italy.

The red imported fire ant (solenopsis invicta) originates from South America but has managed to expand through the likes of the US, Mexico, China, and Australia. 

It has now made its way to Europe with the large colony in Sicily being the latest reported sighting of the species after just three previous reports - in Spain, Finland and the Netherlands.

It is said to be the fifth costliest species worldwide having an impact on everything including ecosystems, agriculture and human health.

A sting from a fire ant can cause instant and intense pain, before leading to itching, skin irritation and blisters that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days, reports Medical News Today

Hampshire Chronicle: Fire ant stings can cause itching, skin irritation and blisters.Fire ant stings can cause itching, skin irritation and blisters. (Image: Getty Images)

Studies suggest fire ant venom contains poison that affects the nervous system, MNT continued. 

For this reason, in severe cases, a fire ant sting can cause victims to hallucinate.

Fire ants could soon invade the UK

Global warming is said to be increasing the suitability of conditions for fire ants across Europe according to Current Biology making it more of an appealing home. 

The online journal said: "We show that half of the urban areas in Europe are already suitable and that climate warming expected under current trends will favor the expansion of this invasive ant."

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A map shows that by 2050 most of the UK will provide suitable conditions to house the invasive fire ant. 

The movement of the ants has been tracked by Current Biology which said the ants fly assisted by the wind.

They added "alarmingly" the fire ants were beginning to travel "well outside" their usual flight times - moving in winter rather than the typical spring-autumn time seen in the northern hemisphere.