Pain-inducing insects also spotted in port of Japan’s second largest city.

As one of the biggest naval shipping hubs in the world, things are always pretty busy at the Port of Tokyo. On Thursday, though, there was an extra dose of commotion that came from something other than the fast pace of international commerce or the complexities of maritime navigation.

On June 18, workers at the Harumi Wharf in Tokyo’s Koto Ward discovered more than 200 fire ants in the facility. Those who mentally file all varieties of insects into the broad category of “disgusting creepy crawly things” will be relieved to know that fire ants do not, in fact, have the ability to shoot fire from their mouths…but on the other hand, everyone will be dismayed to learn/be reminded that fire ants get their name because after they bite into you with their mandibles they pierce your flesh with a stinger on their abdomen, then inject a venom that causes a painful burning directly into the wound. In extreme cases, the toxin can even kill people who are allergic to it.

▼ Fire ants

The fire ants were found in the wharf’s container yard, and agents from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment are helping in their extermination. However, neither the ants’ queen nor their nest was located, meaning that wiping out the insects seen on Thursday is, at best, a temporary solution.

The incident follows a previous infestation of fire ants at the wharf which took place in September and October of last year and involved the extermination of over 50 fire ant queens. Last week’s ants were spotted approximately one kilometer (0.6 miles) from where the previous groups were, making it unclear if they’re survivors of the previous purge or a new cluster. In addition, the discovery of the new group of Tokyo fire ants comes just one week after workers at the port of Yokohama, roughly 30 minutes south of Tokyo, found more than 300 fire ants on June 11.

The Ministry of the Environment is laying out poisoned bait in hopes that any remaining ants will take it back to their nests and inadvertently wipe out their colony, but cautions that fire ants become more active as the weather gets warmer, and urges anyone spotting suspicious looking ants avoid physical contact with them and contact the ministry.

Sources: NHK News Web, Livedoor News/Kyodo
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Wikipedia/Anna Frodesiak
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