Red fire ants have invaded 12 provinces on the mainland or expand to 20 provinces in the future

Red fire ants are proliferating in the mainland. Officials say that 12 provinces, including Guangdong and Yunnan, have been invaded so far. In the next 20 to 30 years, red fire ants will invade the Qinling and Huaihe River area, involving nearly 20 provinces and more than 1,000 county-level areas.

CCTV News reported on April 28 that the red fire ant, a globally recognized dangerous invasive organism, started in the Paraná River basin in South America and was transferred to Wuchuan in Guangdong Province on the mainland through imported redwoods in 2004. By 2019 the red fire ants spread throughout Guangdong Province to 120 counties and districts. As of now, red fire ants have spread to 12 provinces including Guangdong and Yunnan, reaching as far north as the Yangtze River basin and east to Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Guangxi, and also to Guizhou and Chongqing.

At the end of last month, the Chinese Communist Party’s Ministry of Rural Affairs said that red fire ants had spread to 435 counties (cities and districts) in 12 provinces, invading Hangzhou in Zhejiang, Xiaogan in Hubei, Yuzhong in Chongqing, Guangyuan in Sichuan and other places.

The aforementioned report said that the main way for the red fire ant to spread in the mainland is to invade and spread across provinces, transporting flowers, seedlings, turf and other plants with soil over long distances. A survey of more than 100 sites where the red fire ant was introduced found that turf and seedlings carried an invasion rate of 85.2% and that 27 of 95 species of flowers and seedlings carried the red fire ant.

According to the report, based on the average annual rate of increase of 20 county-level areas by the invasion spread of red fire ants, in the next 20 to 30 years, red fire ants will invade to the Qinling and Huaihe River area, involving nearly 20 provinces and more than 1,000 county-level areas.

Lu Yongyue, director of the Red Fire Ant Research Center at South China Agricultural University, said that northern Jiangsu, southeastern Shandong, northern Anhui, central Henan, southern Shaanxi, most of Sichuan, and most of Yunnan are the northernmost boundaries of future spread.

It is reported that the red fire ant is one of the 100 most dangerous invasive species, the impact on agriculture includes: red fire ant directly feeds on crop roots, stems, leaves, fruits, underground parts, etc. It is able to directly harm more than 50 kinds of crops such as soybeans, corn, vegetables, citrus, etc., causing crop yield reduction. In addition, red fire ants are also harmful to human body and can bite farmers, leading to loss of land. In recent years, there have been cases of ants surrounding villages and biting people and animals in many places on the mainland.

Earlier, Prof. Lu Yongyue also said that the venom of red fire ants includes water-soluble proteins, ant acids, alkaloids, etc. When people are bitten, they will produce pain like burns, followed by blisters and pus, and serious people will be allergic or even go into shock, causing death.