Australian state commits 15 million USD to eradicate lethal fire ants

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-03 14:31:08|Editor: xuxin
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SYDNEY, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Victorian state government committed 15 million U.S. dollars on Wednesday to combat the invasion of lethal fire ants.

The funds will be spent over four years to eradicate the imported ant within Victoria.

The Invasive Species Council (ISC), an environmental lobby group, said the stakes in eradicating the ant were huge.

They warned that if the ants were allowed to invade Victoria, parks and beaches would be overrun by the aggressive stinging ants.

The ants typically arrive on new shores by cargo ships from places with existing infestations.

"The window of opportunity is closing. This might be our last chance to get rid of them," Andrew Cox, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ISC, told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

He said if a colony is disturbed the fire ants, which are slightly smaller than normal ants, attack en masse, swarming the body and coordinating their bites.

"They sting in unison," Cox said.

"One stings, and then they fire off a chemical and all the ants sting. Your hand or leg feels like it's on fire because you've got hundreds of ants biting you at once.

The ant has been spotted in Queensland with the state spending 248 million U.S. dollars over the last 20 years to combat the spread.

Biosecurity agencies in Victoria will use the new funds to hunt and kill fire ants, using aerial photography, infrared and thermal scanning and sniffer dogs.