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California Ag Officials Use Spam To Keep Big-Headed African Ants From Spreading North

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Pheidole megacephala, one of several big headed ant species. (April Nobile/www.antweb.org)

Pheidole megacephala, one of several big headed ant species. (April Nobile/www.antweb.org)

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COSTA MESA, Orange County (CBS/AP) — California agriculture officials are on the hunt for an invasive species of ant that’s been spotted in an Southern California yard — and they’ll use Spam as bait.

In an effort to contain Pheidole megacephala, one of several big-headed ant species, 1,570 bait stations will be set up Monday in seven Orange County cities.

The ants love the fatty, oily food.

An entomologist spotted a colony last month in a Costa Mesa yard while visiting a friend and agriculture officials have been trying to determine if there are other colonies.

“I knew the state and the county would get in an uproar as soon as I let them know,” entomologist Gordon C. Snelling told the Orange County Register. “It was one of those sheer dumb luck things.”

The species is native to Africa and has a huge head. It’s the first documented sighting of this species in California, authorities said.

If it spreads in California it could threaten the state’s agriculture.

The ants aren’t dangerous to humans.

Officials will try to get the OK from property owners before placing the bait stations in front yards.

 

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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