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Fire ants infiltrate B.C.'s Lower Mainland

File photo (Wikipedia)

File photo (Wikipedia)

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, March 23, 2015, 3:20 PM - Fire ants are a growing problem in parts of British Columbia and the milder temperatures experienced over the past winter aren't helping.

Fire ants are an invasive species that were introduced into North America from Asia in the early 1900s. Since then, the ants have spread into Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and now British Columbia.

Recently, CP Rail announced it will begin incinerating old railway tiles and soil from the Arbutus Corridor in an effort to control the bugs, which has a particularly large infestation.

The ants can be found in nearly every district of the Lower Mainland.

"On a warm day it's going to look like an ant volcano exploded out of the ground. That's how aggressive they are," Jennifer Grenz, project manager of the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver, told the CBC.

The ants are a problem because of their tendency to swarm and bite.

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 "When you step on the top of the nest you may not notice anything but they'll quickly come boiling up to the surface in response to the disturbance and swarm up your legs and that's when people get stung," Robert Higgins, who studies the ecology of ants in B.C. at Thompson Rivers University, told the CBC. 

Last summer the ants caused runway delays at Vancouver International Airport when birds swarmed in to eat the insects and crashed into a number of planes. That prompted a temporary runway closure while crews cleaned up the aftermath.

Source: CBC


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