Agriculture Ministry inspectors intercept sunflower seeds shipment infested by dangerous insects; ants pose danger to local ecosystem


A species of fire ants almost made its way to Israel last week, inside a shipment of sunflower seeds.

According to an Agriculture Ministry statement, ministry inspectors discovered an unfamiliar insect during a routine inspection.

The infested shipment was detained and quarantined while a specimen was sent to Tel Aviv University for identification.

The alarming result soon came in and the insects were identified as Formicidae Myrmicinae Solenopsis sp – or fire ants.

Fire ants are a variety of stinging ants with over 285 species worldwide. Their bite is considered dangerous and is some cases it can kill.

The ministry said that had the infested shipment made its way into the country, the insects would have posed a danger for both humans and various ecosystems.

As a new species in the local ecosystem, fire ants have no natural enemy in the food chain. Such circumstances would allow them to breed freely, consequently causing severe – and sometimes irrevocable – damages to local vegetation and wildlife.

Fire ants are considers highly resilient and exterminating them is difficult, ranking the insect high on the Invasive Species list.

The infested container was sealed and sent back to its country of origin.,7340,L-4300520,00.html