China / Society

Live ants seized at airport customs

By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu ( Updated: 2015-11-04 14:57

Live ants seized at airport customs

More than 1,000 black ants smuggled into China from Germany in two parcels have been seized in Chengdu, Sichuan province. [Photo/]

More than 1,000 black ants smuggled into China from Germany in two parcels have been seized in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

"The intended recipient intended to raise them as pets," said Chen Bingyu, an information officer from the Sichuan Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.

The person was not named, but an investigation is under way, Chen said.

On Friday, Chengdu Customs officers at the Shuangliu airport were scanning overseas express mail when they found a parcel from Hamburg with many test tubes.

Opening the parcel, they found hundreds of black ants between 1.5 cm and 2 cm long in glass test tubes.

Two days later, another parcel for the same recipient arrived. Officers again found tubes filled with hundred of black ants.

"All of the 1,012 ants in the two parcels were transferred to our bureau's lab," Chen said.

Most tubes have only one ant inside. Each tube is about 10 cm long and 2 cm in diameter. In its bottom is 5 mm of honeydew.

"Some ants are energetic and jump up and down in the tubes because of nutrients from honeydew," said Zhao Feng, an inspector in the lab.

"They are alien species named harvester and bullet ants and have no natural enemy in China," he said.

Eggs in the shape of water droplets can be seen in a few tubes.

"A queen could produce about 2,000 eggs in a single day. Ants without any natural enemy can endanger the local ecology. The alien ants might carry diseases and endanger agriculture, forestry and human health," Zhao said.

Since the mid-1990s, the invasion of alien species has done great harm to the country's ecosystem, biodiversity, agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery, according to Chen Hai, chief of the airport office of the bureau.

"At least 400 alien species of animals, plants and microorganisms have invaded China. Of the globe's 100 most dangerous alien species on the list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, more than 50 have invaded China," he said.

Last year, her bureau found 10 live snakes being brought through the Shuangliu airport and intercepted 12 ants in tubes in a parcel at an international mail center in Baijia, Shuangliu county, according to Chen Bingyu.

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