Australian lawmakers scrutinize threat from deadly fire ants

The threat from invasive fire ants is being taken seriously in Australia, as lawmakers hold a public meeting in Canberra to discuss the aggressive insects. Native to South America, these ants are a danger to people, pets, livestock, and wildlife, potentially posing more danger than other invasive species like rabbits, cane toads, foxes, camels, wild dogs, and feral cats combined. The parliamentary inquiry by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee is investigating the impact of these ants on health, agriculture, and the environment.

Fire ants attack as a swarm, locking their jaws onto their victim's skin and injecting venom through a spike on their abdomen. Their bite causes a burning sensation, which has earned them their fearsome reputation. Efforts to destroy ant colonies have been disputed, with some experts claiming that Australia has underestimated the threat of fire ants for 20 years and underfunded response efforts.

The ants expand their territory at a rate of 50-80 kilometers per year in China and the U.S., and have never been eradicated from any country they have invaded. Authorities are taking the matter seriously, with the National Fire Ant Eradication Program warning that fire ants have the potential to cause more damage than Australia's worst pests.

Lawmakers have gathered evidence from farmers, scientists, and government representatives, and will report their findings in April. This is a crucial matter for Australia, which has had serious problems with invasive species in the past. Efforts to combat the fire ant problem are underway, but it will take coordination and dedication to prevent these deadly insects from taking over.

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