Ant attack forces people to flee Odisha village
An operation was launched in Odisha’s Puri district after poisonous ants infested a village, forcing some people to flee, officials said on Tuesday.
Lakhs of red and fire ants infested the Brahmansahi village in Chandradeipur panchayat area after flood waters receded, following which scientists of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) and the district administration launched the operation, they said.
Swarms of ants infested every nook and corner of the village, including houses, roads, fields and trees, throwing the normal lives out of gear. Many have been beaten by these ants, causing swelling and irritation on the skin.
Even domestic animals and house lizards have fallen prey to the ants. The situation is such that villagers are to forced draw circles with pesticide powders wherever they sit, stand or sleep.
Three families of the village have fled due to the ant menace and are staying at their relatives’ place, locals said.
Loknath Dash, a villager, said he has not seen anything like this in the past despite floods hitting the village earlier as well.
“The ants have made our lives miserable. We are unable to eat, sleep or sit properly. The children are unable to study due to the fear of ants,” said Renubala Dash, who along with her family is now staying at a relative’s house in a nearby village.
Senior OUAT scientist Sanjay Mohanty said the village is surrounded by a river and bushy forests. “The ants which live on the river embankment and bushes moved to the village as their habitats were inundated by flood waters.”
Mohanty said it was a new phenomenon in the village, where around 100 families live.
“However, we are try to find the place from where the ants are coming. Once the place is located, pesticide can be sprayed on a two metre radius of it,” he said.
“In order to end the menace, our primary aim is to find and kill the queen ants. They are responsible for the explosion of red and fire ants in the area,” he added.
Mohanty said samples of the ants have been sent to the laboratory to ascertain their character.
Block Development Officer (BDO) Rashmita Nath said such ants are not new to the area, but none thought that they could affect normal lives.
Though the people have complained of skin irritation and swelling after ant bites, no one has been hospitalised so far, she said.
“I visited the village and found ants everywhere. The locals have tried their best but could not drive away the ants,” she said.
The officer said cleaning of bushes and spraying of insecticides have been ordered.
Medical teams are also visiting the village to treat the affected people, she said.
After cyclone Phailin in 2013, a similar incident happened in Danda village in Sadar block of the district, a scientist said.