Green Fingers I Wish

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ants - Not a Gardener`s Friend!

Ants can actually KILL, as this news story showed:-

Beware of the Bugs: Fire Ants Can Kill Americans
A South Carolina Woman Died After Being Stung by Fire Ants

In about five percent of cases, fire ants can actually cause death.

July 2, 2006 — Last week, Janet Wallace Roedl Shiansky, a 68-year-old South Carolina woman, went into anaphylactic shock and died after being attacked by ants while she was gardening. The ants that attacked her are called fire ants and are the most aggressive ants in the world — and they are spreading to other parts of the country.

Entomologist Mike Raupp said that when fire ants attack they usually cause minor red welts and a pustule that will fade in a couple days. In about five percent of cases, fire ants can actually cause death.

"In those cases, where people have a volatile reaction, some of them actually do die," said Raupp. "It's a severe allergic reaction — throats swell up and people literally suffocate. But that is very rare. Most people won't react that way."

Shiansky died after several ants ran up her sneaker last weekend and stung her foot. Her husband brushed them off and treated the stings with ammonia, according to the Associated Press. A few minutes later, he went inside to check on her and found her lying on a bed unresponsive with her sunglasses still on. At the hospital, doctors found that her brain had begun to swell. She died the next day from what doctors said was an allergic reaction that caused her airways to close.

Dangerous Ants

Fire ants, which often attack and kill small animals like kittens, are primarily found in the Southeast, Raupp said. Their range extends from North Carolina across Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas — and there is also a colony in California.

"You might find some in other parts of the country — but there aren't large concentrations in the North," Raupp said. "If you see them in the northern states it's largely due to landscaping transplants. The fire ants are transported on plants that are taken from the South and planted in the North. … But most fire ant stings happen to people in the southern states."

Fire ants have become such a problem in the Southeast that phorid flies have been imported to combat them. The flies lay larvae on the ants. When the larvae hatch they eat the fire ants' heads.

abc news

3 Comments:

  • Without ants ALL our ecosystems will collapse - artificial, managed or "wild" alike.

    What we need gardeners to be aware of is the importance of controlling the spread of invasive or tramp ant species to areas where their natural predators won't spread.

    That's part of the reason fire ants are so successful in the USA.

    Another is the long-term cavalier attitude of developers, importers, shippers, nursery owners and gardeners to how they source, keep and transplant garden and commercial plants.

    I think there is a lot of better advice you could give your readers than the news that anaphylactic shock can kill . . .

    By Blogger ian, at 12:07 am  

  • Yes, of course no one doubts that ants are essential to the ecosystem. But, my post was simply a report on an event, with very little editorialising by myself.

    Ants are generally considered to be a pest, as this piece on the Wikipedia website shows:-

    "Ant as pests

    Modern society considers the ant a pest, and due to the adaptive nature of ant colonies, eliminating one is near impossible. Pest control with regard to ants is more a matter of controlling local populations than eliminating an entire colony. Attempts to control ant populations of any kind are temporary solutions.

    Typical ants that are classified as pests include Pavement Ants (otherwise known as the sugar ant), Pharaoh Ants, Carpenter Ants, Argentine Ants, and the Red Imported Fire Ant. Control of species populations are usually done with bait insecticides, which are either in the form of small granules, or as a sticky liquid that is gathered by the ants as food and then brought back to the nest where the poison is inadvertently spread to other members of the brood — a system that can severely reduce the numbers in a colony if used properly. Boric acid and borax are often used as insecticides that are relatively safe for humans. With the recent insurgence of the Red Imported Fire Ant, a tactic called broadcast baiting has been employed, by which the substance (usually a granule bait designed specifically for Fire Ants) is spread across a large area, such as a lawn, in order to control populations. Nests may be destroyed by tracing the ants' trails back to the nest, then pouring boiling water into it to kill the queen. (Killing individual ants is less than effective due to the secretion of pheromones mentioned above).

    Ants that tend other insects can indirectly cause pest infestations. Many homopteran insects that are considered as horticultural pests are controlled by the use of grease rings on the trunks of the trees. These rings cut off the routes for ants and make the pest species vulnerable to parasites and predators."

    By Blogger dex, at 3:10 pm  

  • The absence of your own comment or balancing text means that repeating the content is the same as endorsing it, and rather un-green. Selectively adding more from the ultra-reliable (and inherently populist) Wikipedia reinforcing this view of ants as pests performs the same dis-service doesn't it?

    See http://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.com/index.html please . . .

    all the best

    By Blogger ian, at 1:01 am  

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