Red ants menace in Train

Ants have colonized almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organization and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves. Their long co-evolution with other species has led to mimetic, commensal, parasitic, and mutualistic relationships.

Over here we discuss the problem caused by Red ants also known as Fire ants. Fire ant is the common name for several species of ants in the genus Solenopsis. They are, however, only a minority in the genus, which includes over 200 species   of Solenopsis worldwide. Solenopsis are stinging ants and most of their common names reflect this, for example, ginger ants and tropical fire ants. Many species also are called red ants because of their light brown color, though species of ants in many other genera are similarly named for similar reasons. Examples include Myrmica rubra and Pogonomyrmex barbatus.

The bodies of mature fire ants, like the bodies of all typical mature insects, are divided into three sections: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen, with three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae. Fire ants of those species invasive in the United States can be distinguished from other ants locally present, by their copper brown head and body with a darker abdomen. The worker ants are blackish to reddish, and their size varies from 2 to 6 mm (0.079 to 0.236 in). In an established nest these different sizes of ants are present at the same time.

A typical fire ant colony produces large mounds in open areas, and feeds mostly on young plants and seeds. Fire ants often attack small animals and can kill them. Unlike many other ants, which bite and then spray acid on the wound, fire ants bite only to get a grip and then sting (from the abdomen) and inject a toxic alkaloid venom called Solenopsin, a compound from the class of piperidines. For humans, this is a painful sting, a sensation similar to what one feels when burned by fire and the after effects of the sting can be deadly to sensitive people. Fire ants are more aggressive than most native species and so have pushed many species away from their local habitat These ants are renowned for their ability to survive extreme conditions. They do not hibernate, but can survive cold conditions, although this is costly to fire ant populations as observed during several winters, where 80 to 90% of colonies died due to several consecutive days of extremely low temperatures.

Fire ants nest in the soil, often near moist areas, such as river banks, pond shores, watered lawns, and highway shoulders. Usually, the nest will not be visible, as it will be built under objects such as timber, logs, rocks, pillers or bricks. If there is no cover for nesting, dome-shaped mounds will be constructed, but these are usually only found in open spaces, such as fields, parks and lawns. These mounds can reach heights of 40 cm (16 in), but can be even higher on heavier soils, standing at 1.0m in height and 1.5m in diameter. Colonies are founded by small groups of queens or single queens. Even if only one queen survives, within a month or so, the colony can expand to thousands of individuals. Some colonies may be polygynous (having multiple queens per nest). These ants thrive on wood, fruits or any consumable product. Thermoplastics materials have always attracted ants and insects. The plasticizers usually have bright colour. They also have aromatic odors of polymers which attract ants and insects.Thus ants and insect confuse it for the food This makes them to nibble on the plastic thus damaging it and causing huge economic loss.

Below Articles is related to the loss caused by ants.

Mumbai: Local train brakes failed due to red ants, probe reveals

Express News Service, Mumbai, November 19, 2015.

Review of a brake fail in a local train on November 17 at Matunga on the Central Line has shown that the equipment malfunction could be caused by corrosion of the brake panel due to red ants.

The local was sent to Kurla Car Shed for examination which showed that red ants inside the brake panel had damaged the cable wires, causing failure in application of brake.

The motorman had switched to emergency brakes after he failed to stop the train in the regular way.

“It was 11.47 am at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and the local was from Kalyan. The problem occurred when the train reached Matunga station and the motorman failed to apply the brake,” said a source from the Central Railway (CR). At Kurla Shed, the entire panel inside the motorman’s cabin was opened which revealed crowding of red ants in all controls.

C Tech Corporation, an Indian company has come up with an impeccable solution to counteract problems caused by such insect. Termirepel ™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous termite/insect repellent which has been designed for various polymeric applications as well as natural materials like woods. It is a unique blend of green chemistry and smart technology which acts as an effective repellent and at the same time guarantees safety to the environment, plants, animals and fragile ecosystem.

Termirepel does not kill but only keeps the ants away by making use of their sensory mechanisms. Aggressive species are further deterred from attacking by advanced mechanisms like aversion, feeding disruption, temporary mating disruption, reproduction cycle inhibition, growth impairment and chemo sterilization. This further modifies the response of insects towards the Termirepel containing products which makes them to stay away from the application.