Venomous fire ants found in South Korea for first time
Species native to South America is known to inflict painful bites that can lead to anaphylactic shock and even death
By Lee Kyung-min
South Korean quarantine authorities said they had sterilised ports in Busan after workers there found what were later confirmed to be red fire ants. The species native to South America is known to inflict painful bites that in some cases lead to anaphylactic shock and death.
This is the first ever infestation of the species in Korea. The ants were recently found in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, several Caribbean countries, China and Japan.
The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency said it conducted an emergency inspection and sterilisation of quays where containers were being unloaded.
Only containers that underwent complete and full sterilisation were allowed to leave the port, the agency added. Officials are expanding extermination efforts to combat the ants that are two to six millimetres in size, and coppery-brown in colour.
The authorities called on those who spot what are suspected to be fire ants to report them.
The measure comes three months after three fire ant infestations were reported in Japan at Nagoya Port and in Kobe.
According to the Japan Times, the venomous ants were first discovered in a container in May that arrived at Kobe Port.