Environment: Fire Ant Fiasco

The fire ants first arrived in Mobile, Ala., in 1918, hidden in a cargo from their native Brazil. Now they infest at least 133 million acres in nine Southern states from Texas to North Carolina and are slowly spreading northward. They live in open areas (farm land, pastures, even lawns) where they build 3-ft-high mounds that hinder mowers, plows and other machinery. They swarm over farm animals or people who stumble over the mounds, stinging them viciously. The ants' venom, which can cause coma in allergic individuals, produces the painful burning sensation that gives the ants their name. Despite the undeniable...

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