Friday, February 04, 2005

Evil Ant Invasion!

Evil Ant Invasion! By Chaim Estulin, Time magazine, 07 Feb 2005 Vol. 165, No. 5. As a plague of insects descends on southern China, authorities wonder how to stop them - and who's to blame.

"It sounds like something out of a bad horror movie. Swarms of imported red fire ants - Brazilian insects with scarlet armor and a burning sting - have run rampant in parts of the United States, Australia and Taiwan, consuming small birds, felling livestock, and leaving painful welts on any human skin they contact. Its Latin species name, invicta, means invincible, and so far no affected country has managed to eradicate an infestation of the 2- to 6-mm-long ant.

"I hate them," says Keith McCubbin, director of the Queensland Fire Ant Control Centre, which is spending $136 million on a six-year campaign to rid Australia of what he calls "some of the evilest creatures God put on Earth." Last week, the ants were discovered in Hong Kong, probably arriving via southern mainland China, where infestation had gone previously unannounced.

As with any problem affecting Hong Kong, the mainland and Taiwan - which in October discovered it too had fire ants - fingers were inevitably pointed. Hong Kong officials complained that Guangdong authorities had left them in the dark; mainland farmers blamed Taiwan for foisting the little terrors on them in the first place, likely stowed away in shipments of recyclable trash."

Read more at Time magazine.

"This horror film may well have a sequel. The winged queen ants can fly up to 15 km to start a new colony - which means that eradication efforts in Hong Kong likely will be ineffective without cooperation from the mainland. Says Dr. Richard Corlett, a Hong Kong University biodiversity expert, "There is no border patrol for ants.""

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