July 12, 2014 1:58 am
Updated: July 12, 2014 2:01 am

European fire ant invasion into B.C.

Some unwelcome guests are marching into neighbourhoods all over British Columbia, and there’s no effective way to fight them.

Public enemy number 1: European fire ants.

“When it bites you — it burns,” says Zafor Khan who has dozens of the aggressive little pests in his North Delta backyard.

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European fire ants carry a painful sting and swarm quickly when disturbed. In rare cases, it can also lead to allergic reactions. Once they become established, it can almost be impossible to get rid of them. Moving dirt and plants could even help spread the bugs.

Colonies can reach densities of up to four nests per square metre, rendering gardens, lawns and parks unusable for normal activities.

“When they get into residential areas it means that the residents can’t use their property in the way that they normally would,” says Dr. Rob Higgins from the Department of Biological Services at Thompson Rivers University, “Kids can’t play. Dogs can’t go out.”

The creepy crawlers have already been sighted in several parks, including Richmond’s McDonald Beach Dog Park, Vandusen Botanical Garden and Deep Cove Park.

City officials say if your property is infested, don’t compost any green waste, or the bugs could travel even faster.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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