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Fire ants invade Guam

HAGATNA, Guam, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- The tiny fire ant, recently found on Guam, could be as devastating for the island's ecology as the notorious brown tree snake, an entomologist said Thursday.

The ants were discovered by workers dealing with another invasive species, the coconut rhinoceros beetle, Ross Miller of the University of Guam said. The ants were found at a landfill so experts are unsure what part of Guam they came from.

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The identification of the ants as Wasmannia auropunctata was made by experts at the University of Hawaii, which has also been invaded.

Brown tree snakes, which biologists think hitchhiked to Guam on planes and boats during World War II, have wiped out many of the native bird species. Miller said the ants could have an even bigger effect.

He said they are found in the ground and in trees and on plants, devouring insects and small mammals, reptiles and bird chicks in their path.

Guam, the largest of the Marianna Islands, is a U.S. territory.

Russ Campbell, the territorial entomologist, is working with university scientists on a campaign to contain the ant invasion.

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