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Learning English - Words in the News
04 October, 2004 - Published 14:33 GMT
Taiwan red fire ants

In Taiwan experts have said that it might take three years to completely remove red fire ants from the capital, Taipei. Red fire ants give a painful sting which causes blisters and can sometimes result in death. It is the first time that the ants have been found in Taipei and Taiwan is only the fourth place in the world where they have been seen. This report from Chris Hogg:

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It's vicious and aggressive. When it stings you, the sharp burning sensation can last for an hour and within four hours a white blister appears. The Red Fire Ant comes from Brazil. It's spread through New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Now it's been confirmed that it's infested at least four large areas of Taiwan.

In recent days red fire anthills have been found in the centre of the capital, Taipei, and the authorities have been spurred into action. Taiwan's Premier has urged people not to panic and advised them how to protect their children.

Agricultural experts suspect the red fire ants were brought into Taipei in the soil of potted plants or landscaping material. They warn it could take years to eradicate the pests. They describe this as a war of attrition.

The ants are blamed for losses of five-billion dollars in the United States each year and more than six-and-a-half-billion in Australia. Extra stocks of pesticide have been ordered by Taiwan's government. It hopes to contain the spread of the insects by the end of the year. Complete eradication, which some doubt is even possible, is likely to take much longer.

Chris Hogg, BBC News

Listen to the words

a physical feeling

a painful swelling containing clear liquid on the surface of your skin

moved outwards to cover a large area

mounds of earth formed by ants when they are making a nest

official organisations or government departments

encouraged to do something

the leader of a country's government

destroy or remove completely

a process in which you weaken an enemy by continually attacking it

chemicals used to kill harmful insects

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