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Ants Invade New Zealand by iPod

iPods are everywhere, and according to a posting on the PestNet discussion list forwarded to us by loyal reader Frank Streeter, some unsavory characters are using the iPod to move around the world. The bad guys in this case were Singapore ants – Monomorium destructor. They infiltrated a packaged iPod sold in an airport duty-free shop, and an individual returning from Fiji to New Zealand purchased the iPod on his way home. Upon arrival, however, he discovered the ants, and, acting on instructions from the authorities, put the iPod and packaging in his freezer to kill the insects (I presume the iPod emerged unscathed, though its fate wasn’t mentioned).

This quick thinking may have saved the entire country from an infestation of environmental, economic, and health significance – M. destructor is a stinging ant that, although not particularly dangerous to humans, is extremely annoying, mainly due to building large colonies in homes and other structures. Worse, the worker ants are highly predacious on other insects and are known to gnaw holes in fabrics, some plastics, and rubber goods. They can even remove the rubber insulation from electrical or telephone wires. We’re talking bad dude ants here.

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My friend Ted Schultz, Chair of the Department of Entomology at the Smithsonian Institution, works mostly with leaf-cutter ants, but he was intrigued by the iPod infestation story. He commented that he’d once been sent some ants from Singapore that were fouling up a microwave receiver antenna; some ants are known to be attracted to electromagnetic fields for unknown reasons.


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The moral of the story: bugs aren’t just in software any more, so be careful out there, and keep an eye on your AirPort base stations!

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