At least some of them apparently slipped into this country via a South American ship 50 or 60 years ago. They have prospered, become a problem, and defied all efforts to get rid of them.
Who are these illegal immigrants? The fire ants (Solenopsis). Physicians at the American Academy of Allergy meeting in New Orleans reported treating increasing numbers of human allergic reactions to the fire ant sting. (One reason for the fire ant's name is that its sting is said to feel much like a burn.)
The reactions are often extremely serious. A number of deaths have occurred, and some fingers and toes have required amputation, according to the American Farm Bureau. Another type of case was reported by a chemist in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, DC. On three separate occasions, he wrote, he was stung by fire ants. Within several weeks, skin