Fire ant menace faces dousing
GUANGZHOU: Officials in South China's Guangdong Province have pledged to go all out to prevent the plague of red fire ants from spreading.
Insect specialist says the most notorious member of the fire ant family can cause serious agricultural losses and is a health concern for individuals. The insects were first identified in Wuchuan last week.
"Guangdong Agriculture Depart-ment and Guangdong Health Department have joined hands to organize the investigation team in an effort to examine and identify the ants," said Chen.
He added: "The province has already begun destroying ant mounds by using pesticide solution and poisonous baits. I believe it is not difficult to kill the ants once they were identified."
Chen sought to allay fears over the ant's threat to humans.
"As far as we know, it is not so serious as what some reports claimed that the sting could endanger life," said Chen.
Chen suggested people stung by the ants should seek medical treatment immediately so as to prevent the wound from worsening.
"The ants have undoubtedly brought harm to plants and vegetables crops, but I cannot say how much financial and stock loss has taken place," said Chen.
He added relevant governments at all levels in the province have released information as a precaution to farmers, warning them how to prevent the ants from harming crops and themselves.
Chen Chaofa, a Hong Kong potted plants wholesaler, said some media reports have hyped the fire ant's menace to humans, and have subsequently harmed his business.
Tightened quarantine procedures have already slowed down exports.
(China Daily 01/28/2005 page2)