Popular Science

Rising temperatures are opening new territories for venomous creatures—including your backyard

Welcome to the neighborhood, fire ants! Sure is hot out today!
A copperhead snake.

A copperhead snake.

For most animals, climate change is seriously bad news. By 2050, it will be the fastest growing threat to biodiversity in the Americas, and by 2100 it could have wiped out more than half of African bird and mammal species. From sea turtles to polar bears to pikas, many of our most charismatic species are in jeopardy.

But certain less cuddly animals may fare better—and will cope with rising temperatures by moving to new latitudes. “There’s always winners and losers, and it seems that some of the organisms that are doing well and may do well into the future are [the] venomous species,” says Isabelle Neylan, a graduate student in marine ecology at the University of California, Davis.

Many animals that live on land will migrate north or south in coming decades, away from tropical areas and into places that in the journal . The team pored over predictions other researchers have created in recent years for all manner of toxic creatures and predict that, on the whole, they will cross our paths more frequently in future. What’s more, many of these species are already on the move.

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