Fire ants Photo: Pakutaso

Hundreds of venomous fire ants discovered in Tokyo; queen yet to be found

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

As one of the biggest naval shipping hubs in the world, things are always pretty busy at the Port of Tokyo. On June 18, though, there was an extra dose of commotion that came from something other than the fast pace of international commerce or the complexities of maritime navigation.

Workers at the Harumi Wharf in Tokyo’s Koto Ward discovered more than 200 fire ants in the facility. Those who mentally file all varieties of insects into the broad category of “disgusting creepy crawly things” will be relieved to know that fire ants do not, in fact, have the ability to shoot fire from their mouths…but on the other hand, everyone will be dismayed to learn/be reminded that fire ants get their name because after they bite into you with their mandibles they pierce your flesh with a stinger on their abdomen, then inject a venom that causes a painful burning directly into the wound. In extreme cases, the toxin can even kill people who are allergic to it.

The fire ants were found in the wharf’s container yard, and agents from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment are helping in their extermination. However, neither the ants’ queen nor their nest was located, meaning that wiping out the insects seen on Thursday is, at best, a temporary solution.

The incident follows a previous infestation of fire ants at the wharf which took place in September and October of last year and involved the extermination of over 50 fire ant queens. Last week’s ants were spotted approximately one kilometer from where the previous groups were, making it unclear if they’re survivors of the previous purge or a new cluster. In addition, the discovery of the new group of Tokyo fire ants comes just one week after workers at the port of Yokohama, roughly 30 minutes south of Tokyo, found more than 300 fire ants on June 11.

The Ministry of the Environment is laying out poisoned bait in hopes that any remaining ants will take it back to their nests and inadvertently wipe out their colony, but cautions that fire ants become more active as the weather gets warmer, and urges anyone spotting suspicious looking ants avoid physical contact with them and contact the ministry.

Sources: NHK News WebLivedoor News/Kyodo

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Better than mosquito repellent – The most eco-friendly (and spiritual) way to repel pests in Japan

-- We try eating insects — they don’t taste like chicken

-- Bug hunt! Some areas offering rewards for alien beetles threatening Japan’s cherry blossoms

© Japan Today

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment


"Find the Queen" is the name of my new mini drama.

Good Luck with that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

queen yet to be found

Be careful out there, people! I heard she's a "Killer Queen" (ant) and she's guaranteed to blow your mind...anytime!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Infrared camera technology, used at night, may help in discovering infestation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Ministry of the Environment is laying out poisoned bait in hopes that any remaining ants will take it back to their nests and inadvertently wipe out their colony

This is easily done with sugar, water and boric acid powder which is available over the counter at any drug store in Japan. You just boil a little water and add the sugar and boric acid. Then you suck that up in cotton balls or Q tips. Lay the cotton out and the ants drink it for the sugar. They go back to the nest and give some to the queen. Eventually she and they die of dehydration from the boric acid and no amount of water will save them. Boric acid powder is basically non toxic to humans but its bad for pets and small children so it requires some caution.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites