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Fire Ants - Fire Ants Way More than Just a Bug Shellbe...

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Fire Ants: Way More than Just a Bug Shellbe Flynn Paradise Lost: Florida’s Fragile Environment Irby 27 August 2007
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Flynn Fire ants, usually less than a centimeter in size, are beginning to be a major problem in the South. They have caused 80 known deaths, inhabit more than 310 million acres in the United States and are costing both the community and government millions of dollars in home maintenance and medical bills 1 . How is such small bug causing such a huge problem? These pesky creatures aren’t even a native species; they were brought to America on a boat some 90 years ago. They began creating intricate communities underground, sometimes 50 to 100 feet long and with 200,00 to 400,000 workers. Fire ants are now a fixture, especially in Florida. Since they can kill, infants and the elderly in particular, people have come up with pretty interesting methods of stopping these bugs at home. Scientists are even researching several new modes of ridding them from the country completely. Until new ideas are developed, residents of this beautiful community will remain victims of fire ants; we will continue to deal with encounters like that of Dan Radmacher every day. He writes: In Florida, you learn quickly to never stand in one place outside for any length of time. Especially if you aren’t wearing socks… I felt a sting on my ankle. A sharp, burning sting as if some Lilliputian had jabbed me with a hot poker. Then another one on the other ankle. And another. I looked down, and saw half a dozen small specks on my ankles. I hopped around on one foot and then the other, brushing them off. It turns out there was a nest right by the grill. I would learn to stand on the paving stones set in the grass beside the grill. Even then, it was wise not to stand in one place too long. 2 1 Zia Siddiqi, “Spreading menace: Fire ants on the move,” Nursing Homes . September 2001. http://proquest.com 2 Dan Radmacher, “OPINION: How had can fire ants be? Really bad,” Roanoke Times , 2
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Flynn We will also continue to question it. How did Fire Ants get to America? Fire ants arrived on boats in Alabama, from Brazil in the 1930s. It was most likely a lone queen, and “since then, her descendants have expanded their home territory by about 5% annually. This year, 15 million additional acres will be infested.” 3 They live all
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