• Kyodo

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A third fire ant infestation has emerged at Nagoya port, following two similar discoveries last month in Kobe, the Aichi Prefectural Government said Friday.

The aggressive reddish-brown ants, highly invasive and native to South America, are feared for their painful stings. The pest, formally known as Solenopsis invicta, is commonplace in United States and reportedly in China and Taiwan.

Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto said the ministry will conduct further inspections for the ant at the seven major ports — Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Hakata and Naha.

Following the first discovery in Hyogo Prefecture, authorities inspected ports across the country but did not find any more.

According to the Nagoya port authority, seven fire ants were spotted on the wall of a container at the port’s terminal gate and were exterminated on Tuesday. It also said the container in question had stopped in Tokyo and Yokohama ports before reaching Nagoya.

The container arrived on June 23 from Nansha port in Guangzhou, China — the same port of departure as a previous container that was found with fire ants when it reached Japan.

The operator of the terminal in Nagoya submitted two samples of the insect to the port authority and the ministry’s regional office because the color and other features matched those of red imported fire ants — another name for the species.

The ministry sent the samples to a specialized institute for examination.

The reddish-brown ants have a blackish-red belly and range from 2.5 to 6 mm in length. They are known for a sting that can cause anaphylaxis in some people, leading to breathing problems.

The venomous ants were first discovered in a container that arrived at Kobe port before being unloaded at Amagasaki, also in Hyogo, in May. They were confirmed as fire ants the following month.

They were discovered a second time in a container yard in Kobe port and exterminated.

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