No natural enemies, difficult to prevent and control the invasion of dangerous species of red fire ants in many parts of Sichuan and Zhejiang

Recently, many areas such as Sichuan and Zhejiang suffered from the invasion of dangerous species of red fire ants. The red fire ants are very fierce, and once a person is bitten, he or she may develop red spots and blisters, or even die of anaphylactic shock. In addition, the red fire ants have no natural enemies in China and are difficult to prevent and control, and have spread to 435 counties in 12 provinces, with 14 counties in 6 cities in Sichuan alone being invaded by red fire ants.

The comprehensive mainland media reported on the 15th that the Sichuan Forestry and Grassland Bureau recently released a list of areas infested with red fire ants in Sichuan Province. The content shows that 14 counties (cities and districts) including Panzhihua, Luzhou, Mianyang, Guangyuan, Dazhou, and Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture are infested with red fire ants.

Zhejiang officials also issued a paper on May 12, saying that recently many places in the province were invaded by red fire ants. Among them, Zhangjia Village in Luodian Town, Wucheng District, Jinhua City, has seen a large number of red fire ants after 2006, and people have been bitten.

According to the monitoring of the agricultural and rural departments of the CPC, red fire ants have spread to 435 counties (cities and districts) in 12 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), especially 191 new county-level administrative regions where red fire ants occurred in the past five years, doubling the number from 2016. It occurs in urban parks and green areas, agricultural lands, forest lands and other public areas.

Publicly available information shows that the Latin name of the red fire ant means “invincible” ant and is named because it is difficult to control. When bitten by red fire ants, the bite is distinctive. The bite is itchy and causes allergic symptoms such as burning, pain, redness, swelling and pustules. Some allergic people may suffer from severe anaphylaxis and even dizziness, foaming at the mouth, breathing difficulties, convulsions and coma. Red fire ants not only bite people, but also harm agricultural production and affect plant growth.

In addition, it has been found that the red fire ant has no natural enemies in China and has a swarming pattern of multiple queens, so biological suppression methods for single queens are almost ineffective and difficult to control. Publicly available information in the Chinese media rarely mentions the pathogenicity of red fire ants. In an academic paper published in October 2005, a survey was conducted in a village in Wuchuan City, Guangdong Province, where 69 households were bitten, with a cumulative prevalence of 93.8%, including 0.8% of severe symptoms such as general allergy and shock.

In recent years, there have been a number of cases of red fire ant bites and even deaths.

In March this year, an auxiliary police officer in Xichang, Sichuan, was bitten by red fire ants at work and developed symptoms of blurred consciousness and difficulty in breathing, and was subsequently rushed to the hospital for treatment. Fortunately, the auxiliary police officer received timely treatment and was released from danger.

In August 2020, a child in Xichang City, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan was bitten by red fire ants while playing in Qionghai, and once fell into a coma and nearly died, but was fortunately sent to the hospital in time.

In May 2020, a villager was attacked by red fire ants while watering a mango tree in the village of Adjeda, East District, Panzhihua. The bite was painful with fire and burns, and later used the native method to find smoke oil to apply to relieve the pain. Several local villagers have been bitten by red fire ants in their fields.

In 2018, a man in Nanning, Guangxi, was bitten by red fire ants and showed symptoms such as coma and loss of consciousness, and died after being resuscitated in hospital.

On June 4, 2006, a 46-year-old female greening worker in Dongguan City was bitten by red fire ants while working and died five days later due to anaphylactic shock.