Most fire ants species are known not to bother people and are not invasive. But one introduced species of fire ants, the red imported fire ant or RIFA is an invasive pest in many parts of the world, particularly US, Australia, Philippines, China and Taiwan. It eas accidentally introduced into the US on a South American cargo ship that landed at the port of Mobile, Alabama, in the 1930s. Today, this introduced species of fire ants has made home in the majority of the Southern and Southwestern United States.
Red imported fire ants are more aggressive and violent than the native ant species. One typically encounters them by unintentionally disturbing one of their mounds. This leads to the ants swarming up the person's legs, attacking en masse. The first ant to attack releases pheromones which attract other ants to respond and attack too. They have a painful sting, and the stinging in convert can even cause death in small animals.
US, spends more than $5 billion every year on medical treatment, damage, and controlling these introduced species of fire ants – RIFA. These ants also cause an additional damage of about $750 million annually to agricultural assets, which include the veterinarian bills, the livestock loss as well as crop loss.
More than 40 million people live in RIFA-infested areas and around 30 and 60% of these people are stung each year. One of the other countries seriously affected by the red imported fire ants is Taiwan. Today, most of the countries have ongoing national efforts to control or get rid of these introduced species of fire ants. One of these countries which has been quite successful in its efforts is Australia. In 2007, an intensive program costing around $175 million was effective in eradicating 99% of fire ants.
A new study in US revels that the lizards, which can get killed in a minute by these Red imported fire ants have developed longer legs and new behaviors to run away from the ants.
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