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Saturday, July 26, 2014 | 02:03:04 AM

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Nationwide plague: the Red Imported Fire Ant

From the Galilee to the Negev, one of the most dangerous invasive species – the Red Ant - has become a nationwide plague. The ant is highly dangerous for animals, painful for humans.

Jul 09, 2013, 07:12PM | Ainav Weisberg
Fire Ant

Fire Ant Channel 2

The new natural plague threatening Israel is very dangerous, but very small: the Red Imported Fire Ant is only 2 millimeters in size, but it is a real danger to animals and painful for humans. It has spread across the country and there is no solution to the problem.  

Lilach a resident of Rosh Ha’ain witnessed a friend’s son bitten and is very concerned “He was lying in the hammock and he flipped over and started crying like crazy. I panicked; we saw his back full of scratches and reaction like that of jellyfish sting. He wouldn’t stop crying, very scary, I’m afraid to sit in the garden, we had guests over on the weekend so we sat only in the living room”.

These ants arrived in Israel by accident, in 1995 on a shipment of trees from America. They are red and very small, almost invisible, between a millimeter and a millimeter and a half in size. When stinging an animal for instance a dog or cat, they can cause blindness, for human beings they are not dangerous, but the sting can be very painful. “This ant is on the very shady list of the 100 most dangerous ants in the world” says biologist Tal Weinberg. “It will remain with us for many years”.

“The state needs to take responsibility”

Even if you call an exterminator, he will not be able to prevent the ant’s return. The ants have already been seen in over 100 places from the Galilee to the Arava, and they are still spreading. “If local authorities, the environmental protection office and the agricultural office will not take responsibility and initiative and start dealing with the problem on a neighborhood and city level we will not be able to deal with this. Today they are mainly in private homes, the day when they are in schools and kindergartens is not far” the biologist said.

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