Plant Health Care in Richmond, VA

Asian Needle Ant moves into region

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And just when you thought it was safe!

Muh ha ha ha.

Asian Needle Ant moves into region

Asian Needle Ant moves into region

Chesterfield County has a new resident, but one the county would rather not have: the Asian needle ant, Pachycondyla chinensis.

Native to China, Japan and the Koreas, this ant is known in the Japanese culture as oo-hari-ari or giant needle ant. Its common name refers to the painful sting inflicted on people unfortunate enough to cross paths with the ant. This ant is small and varies from 5-6.5 mm in length, and is dark brown to almost black. The legs and antenna tips are often lighter orange-to-brown shade.

Records indicate that this pest entered the United States in the 1930s or earlier in Dekalb County, Ga. Since then is has been identified throughout the Southeast, including Virginia. The Asian needle ant has a very painful sting similar to that of a fireant but is not as aggressive as the fireant. Asian Needle ants tend to avoid interactions with people or animals. However, if the Asian needle ant is trapped between skin and clothing, the ant will do what it is programmed to do: sting.

There are two important consequences of this introduced species. Research in the southeast has shown that this new ant species will supplant native ant species, thereby reducing biodiversity. Secondly, the ant poses a health risk to individuals sensitive to the venom. Serious adverse reactions have been reported in 1-2% of the cases, both in the United States and Asia.

Landscapers and gardeners should be on the alert for this new pest. In nature, the ant resides in damp areas below stones and in rotting logs. In residential settings, the ant can be found in mulch and under railroad ties, bricks and pavers.

If you are stung, seek medical attention if you are known to be sensitive or suspect you might be sensitive to insect venom. You do not need to submit a sample of the insect to your primary care physician, but if you are interested in identifying this or other insects, contact your local extension office for instructions on submitting samples.


Written by vaphc

July 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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