In a surprising finding, scientists in France have been able to discover a very dangerous type of ant for the first time in the country.

The "little fire ants" are one of the world's worst invasive species. The first-ever colony of these insects in France was found in a residence in Toulon on the French Riviera.

These ants are also called "electric ants" due to their painful sting, which is often stronger than that of a nettle. They are so dangerous that they can even cause blindness in cats and dogs, according to The Telegraph. They have previously been detected within Europe in Malaga, Spain.

Olivier Blight, a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Biodiversity and Ecology, believes that they may have come to France with some plants.

"It's just been identified but has been here around four or five years because there are already several hundred thousand, or even millions, of individuals over a hectare (2.5 acres)," Blight told Le Figaro.

"Its strength is its number," he said, adding that they can reproduce at a really high rate. The little fire ant is a species where some populations reproduce through sex and others through cloning.

Native to South America, these ants are also found in Florida and Hawaii, Israel, West Africa, the Caribbean, and Australia. They can live in trees or on the ground. The workers are only 1.2 to 1.5 mm long but have still been termed a dangerous species capable of displacing native insects in a region.

They are not only dangerous to animals but can also easily destroy the biodiversity of a region. Pest experts in Hawaii describe them as the "world's worst invaders." The Australian state of Queensland has had to spend millions of dollars on containing their spread.

The species has now been added to the European Union's "invasive alien species of Union concern" list.

Little fire ants
Representative image of little fire ants. Photo/Flickr