The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture said Monday that agricultural departments have the technologies to control the spread of Latin American red fire ants.
Wang Shoucong, deputy director of the Crop Growing Department of the ministry, said a new imported insect, red fire ant, or Solenopsis invicta Buren, has been found in some areas in Wuchuan, a city in south China's Guangdong Province. The ministry has listed the insect as one of the 85 harmful pests which are needed for quarantine during import and one of 33 harmful pests for domestic routine quarantine.
The ministry has also released an emergency plan to prevent and control the spread of the insect. It asked Guangdong local government to close the areas where the insects have been found. It also launched an overall check in areas which have suitable environments for the insect across the whole country.
Wang said that currently, the red fire ants are only found sporadically across the Chinese mainland. Because of an early finding and effective control measures, no severe personal injury have been reported and the normal trade of agricultural products have not been affected.
Before Guangdong's case, red fire ants have been reported in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Following the case in Guangdong, the State Quality Supervision, Check and Quarantine Administration has also sent notice to related ports and ask them to step up quarantine and check on related import and export products. It also worked with agriculture departments to monitor greenhouses and nurseries for the insects in the Guangdong Province.
In Guangdong, the local government has set up a leading team with a vice mayor as the director and carried out a contingency plan to stamp on the pest. The local quarantine department has strengthened quarantine on seeds, flowers and other ornamental plants which are supposed to be transported to other areas of the country or be exported to overseas.
Guangdong is a major production base for flowers and vegetables, with a large quantity of farm produce exported to Hong Kong, Macao regions and foreign markets.
Red fire ant, a species of ants which is originated in South America, entered North America in the 1930s and Australia, New Zealand and China's Taiwan in the beginning of the 21st century. The pest mainly assaults roots, stems, leaves and fruits of plants,but will also sting human beings and animals when disturbed.
But Wang asked public not to be panic, citing that the natural spreading of the pest is very slow.
Wang also said that if stung, people should treat the bite and report it to the plant quarantine department immediately.