“World of Ants” Store Sells Extreme Pest Insects

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Planning to buy Fire Ants? You're not in luck today. The World of Ants is sold out. Until the next shipment arrives.

You wouldn’t think it safe to mail live Malaria mosquitoes around the world. You wouldn’t, I hope, market MedFly as a fun pet. So why would anyone in their right mind do this?

Here is a list of known pest ants for sale by the World of Ants store, based in Germany:

Say what you will about Gerhard Kalytta, the ant smuggler caught earlier this year leaving Australia. Mr. Kalytta at least has sufficient conscience to refrain from selling known high-risk pests. The World of Ants? Not even a shred of responsibility. This store needs to be shut down NOW.

Buy yourself some ants known to be a factor in several bird extinctions.

Note: I believe my reproduction of the screen captures of the World of Ants website fall under the Fair Use provision of U.S. Copyright Law.

64 thoughts on ““World of Ants” Store Sells Extreme Pest Insects”

  1. I agree with you that this business should be stopped – as should many unscrupulous or ignorant purveyors of plants and animals that are invasive or potentially so.

    I applaud bringing the issue to light as you have as an important step. What other actions do you recommend to bring these sort of changes about?

    1. Hey Brian, did your family like travel here? To America that is. By boat, by foot, or maybe by plane? Hell when ever I see another person all I think of is INVASIVE. BIOLOGICAL TERRORISM?! How the US handled the AIDS crisis, when my ancestors gave Native Americans blankets diseased with small pox; what does that make those things then? Because clearly, these are two sperate things entirely. Where did the Japanese Beetle, Gobies, Emerald Ash Borer, so so so so so many others come from? *[Most of the time speculation is through bulk cargo, NOT THE FUCKING ENTHUSIASTS.] It’s the world we live in, evolution new discourse seems to be arguing.

      Why are Americans so fucking behind the times?! You people really really suck.

      Make me take off my shoes, quit smoking, monitoring what pets I keep, removing trans fat from my diet, and this, and this, and this. WHERE THE FUCK IS AMERICAN FREEDOM? Gone, because of our stupid stupid population.

      FUCK!

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  3. What a nightmare. It’s sad that money>conscience these days. Germany needs to seriously get their act together and stop exports such as these.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I would rather see it done via responsible self-regulating community that frowns upon such ecological russian roulette rather than crying to a government for more regulations…but perhaps I overestimate people and underestimate the efficacy of goverment.

      1. I think everyone would prefer no problem in contrast to a regulated problem. Its just that it doesnt cost much for a internet shop to just offer these dangerously invasive species, no matter if there is a large or very small market for them. So its possible for someone to just unknowingly pick up an invasive species just because they are offered as an item in the shop.

        When there is money to be earned from unresponible behaviour you can count on the market to exploit it. Thats when I’m glad to live in a country with a very strong goverment (Note, that does not mean its not a free country, quite to opposite.)

        1. Anonymous Coward

          You are correct, if I were to decide to start up an ant selling site with a simple e-commerce platform I could probably do so for under $20 a year – including buying the domain name. Still, a dealer needs customers and customers come from somewhere. Communities should actively discourage these behaviors from the standpoint of the ecological risks. Point out the irresponsible dealers, make this known to the relevant communities. That would be and is far more effective than any governmental effort could ever be.

          I am not trying to say that a community (or various communities with collective interests) will be able to free itself of the problem of irresponsible keepers and dealers completely either. There will always be those people. This is true for *anything*, so is what you said about “money to be earned from unresponible behaviour you can count on the market to exploit it”.

          The problem is given the facts that there will always be irresponsible people and people will always exploit markets to make money no matter if it is irresponsible or not… does a law change the mind of these people? No, it has no effect but to impact legitimate activities because no matter what kind of law is put in place it will be far too overreaching. This is always the case…or at least I would say it is the far more likely case. We see this here in the USA(where I am from) and the Lacey Act along with various other laws. Even interstate transit of our native fauna is a legal “grey area” here where the answer differs with each official – I have received completely opposite responses to queries many a time.

          Im not sure what country you live in, or what you mean by “very strong government”… I do know that the laws on the books where I am in the USA are often hard to justify with the “ecological risk” argument and do very little to stop the people that would choose to keep something such as these from doing so. We already have laws that explicitly state it is illegal to transport ants across state lines yet it happens all the time and very few people speak out against it – the law doesnt work and the community doesnt enforce, that I have seen, this is what needs to be fixed. I imagine it is much the same elsewhere.

          1. Jesse Hilliard

            the Truth is they need to require a test to take before you can buy ants from ant world to make sure only responsible people are buying ants. They do it Legally or it wouldn’t get through costumes. So don’t be mad at the site. They just need to add a test to take for anyone who wants to buy ants has to take before they can go through the checkout process if they ordered queen ants.

  4. Scary indeed!

    I checked the S. invicta page and at the very end of the description it says (now ?): “We do not supply these ants and the description is for information purposes only!—”

    Wonder if this was the case when you checked the website. The “out of stock” label is suspicious.

      1. I think people who drown kittens, beat little children and punch their wifes and of course read Alex Wild’s blog.

        I am a really bad bastard because I keep Myrmica rubra + Tetramorium colonies (which are native here, but who cares, these are PESTS, at least in other part of the world).

        A German Shop that sells German ants is really bad (by the way the shop never sold Solenopsis invicta, reading sometimes helps)

  5. Dont know if this is recent, and a reaction to this post, but they state in the S. invicta description:

    –We do not supply these ants and the description is for information purposes only!—

    but its not included in the info of the above listed species…

  6. This is gross. The fact that ANYONE can purchase exotic ants is pretty scary. Having just moved from Texas, where S. invicta has wreaked havoc on native animal populations (vertebrate and invertebrate alike) it’s chilling to think about the potential for all kinds of invasive problems.

  7. It may be that some people like the idea of having a pest and/or dangerous species as a pet. Perhaps like those who get the cute exotic baby snakes, cats, etc. and then find out that an adult python or tiger is more than a handful.

    Yet another reason why my stay at home with me pet is a mutt dog and all my other pets live in their native habitats where I visit them on occasion. If they want to see me they come out and if not, well they’re busy. Works out great: no vet bills, they know what they want to eat and when, and I don’t have to worry about them when I’m away…except I worry about them because we are destroying the world.

        1. No. Terrorists have political/societal goals. These guys just want to keep ants, or maybe make some money keeping ants. They’re not trying to bring down a government.

        2. But when we hear them defend why they think it’s okay to import species it’s all the same ideals: The laws are stupid, they were bound to be imported at some point, I’m a pretend scientist, invasive species only cause mass extinctions on confined island settings. The goal of keeping ants and not letting them escape only applies until they sell them to god knows who else.

          My understanding is Paratrechina longicornis and Solenopsis invicta at least are hard to keep in captivity. Assuming that’s true and they know whoever they sell them to is going to have problems then that makes them liable.

          Whatever their intent, these species are known to cause economical damage, many of them have severe stings and it’s been proven they will devastate whatever ecosystems they establish in. The overall result of their business model will lead to a more generalized ecosystem.

    1. You are completely right. CIA should capture them in Germany detain them to Guantanamo and torture them until they confess to their crimes.

      I wonder why you don’t do that with your financial terrorists in the US who caused the world wide financial crises?

      1. “I wonder why you don’t do that with your financial terrorists in the US who caused the world wide financial crises?”

        I wonder this myself. The answer seems to be that they own our government, and if you dissent you get maced and beaten. We’re working on it.

  8. Anyone here ever purchased an ornamental plant? You should have equal or greater righteous indignation for that trade, if your concern is the spread of exotic ants, in my humble opinion. Not that this website isn’t irresponsible, but I suspect their potential for actually spreading exotic ants is a tiny fraction of the trade of the plants we all buy and plant in our yards and workplaces.

      1. True. But suggesting that exotic ants = potential for extinction events and indirectly linking such things to this website is the subject of this post. And the scenarios you suggest are possible are already occurring because of plant trade and other goods, not because of these clowns. I do understand why you pointed them out though, I suspect any attention from scientists or gov’t officials won’t be good for them. I applaud that.

        1. Most ornamental plants are not imported on a regular basis. True the parent plants came from somewhere but most ornamentals are clones, mass produced in green houses of a number of years before they hit nursery shelves. These are landscaping plants which overall tend to behave and don’t spread well. This protects their business model.

          Here we have ants that are some of the worst pests the world over. Their damage to the environment, and world economy are proven facts for most of these.

          I do not have anything against the sale of their more local species. Though die hard conservationists will disagree with me. When you’re based in Europe, you should be proud of the species you have. Nonnative species with more exotic qualities to them (Atta, Honeypot ants, Bulldog Ants, Weaver Ants, etc…) belong in museums and zoos to serve an educational roll. They don’t belong in the gift shop.

        2. I’m with Josh and Alex both, on this one. The potted plant trade, particularly in Florida, is spreading ants everywhere they ship to. Southern California has recently gotten fire ants, several Brachymyrmex and Pheidole species and who knows what else not yet detected. It’s not even legal to ship plants from Florida to California, but they ship to Nevada or Arizona, relabel, then import to southern California where the ants like it just fine. The horticulture trade continues to purvey its own long list of invasive plant species intentionally, too.

  9. It is astounding to me that people/an organization with the resources and knowledge to collect, identify, breed/keep, and ship these animals appear to be oblivious to the environmental impact of their distribution. As a resident of California who has watched native habitats be swallowed up by invaders like Linepithema humile and Genista monspessulana (the fire-friendly, native-choking, insect-averse French Broom), this is not only dismaying but frightening.
    However, thank you, Alex, for making it the subject of a post. I know that Myrmecos is visited widely, by researchers, students, and lay-people alike. Hopefully this will help in spreading awareness and encouraging action to dissuade individuals and organizations from such reprehensible practices.

  10. Marc "Teleutotje" Van der Stappen

    I only have to say two things:

    1) I don’t have ornamental plants (so I don’t endanger my green around my house.).

    2) If you read my comments on the topic about Kalytta you know I’m against trade of ants (and other wild organisms) that are alive across borders. These guys are even worse for selling international dangerous animals.

    One thing I can see on the internet: Most of the selling of ants comes from Germany… Can’t German government do anything against this???

  11. Unfortunately there are more ant suppliers in the world, see:
    http://www.myantshop.com/news.htm

    http://www.ant-home.idv.tw/
    http://translate.google.de/translate?hl=de&sl=zh-CN&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ant-home.idv.tw%2F
    They even sell Pharaos ants, and – at least some time ago – they were providing ants to German private people and to the shops.

    There used to be also a Japanese ant shop whose URL I cannot remember. But Japanese ants were sold in Germany and in the EU, too.

    I was fighting against ant trading practically from the beginning, when the first ant shop appeared on the internet.
    See here: http://myrmecologicalnews.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=152:myrmecologische-nachrichten-6-79-82&Itemid=58&layout=default

    And here:

    Buschinger, A. 2004: International Pet Ant Trade Increasing Risk and Danger in Europe – (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Aliens 19&20, 24-26
    http://www.issg.org/pdf/aliens_newsletters/A19-20.pdf

    Unfortunately I was unsuccessful with my applications to our German authorities as yet.

    @ Alex Wild: Sincere thanks for having posted these two incidences, referring to “AntsKalytta” and “World of Ants”

    Regards,
    A. Buschinger

  12. In addition to the ecological impact of direct competition from invasive ants – is there the potential for the introduction of foreign ant pathogens? In the lab, European Camponotus can be infected with Ophiocordyceps isolated from Panamanian leaf-cutters. http://ento.psu.edu/publications/DH4

    I’m thinking about chestnut blight or dutch elm (or numerous other tree diseases), or Chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Sometimes an introduced species need not escape and thrive (or even have that potential) to be the ultimate cause of ecological harm. Is this a plausible consideration for the ant trade?

    1. Hi Brian Cutting,
      “Sometimes an introduced species need not escape and thrive (or even have that potential) to be the ultimate cause of ecological harm. Is this a plausible consideration for the ant trade?”

      It has been considered here: http://www.issg.org/pdf/aliens_newsletters/A19-20.pdf
      Look at p. 24/25 in the PDF, Section III “The risk of parasites switching over to native species”

      A. Buschinger

    1. Surprisingly, my viewership stats haven’t budged:

      The red lines are when I posted on Kalytta and WoA. So this seems to be a comment boom rather than a reader boom.

  13. While I agree that this kind of species for sale operation is counterproductive, it hardly matters to the overall problem.

    We are in the middle of an EXPONENTIAL rate of increased worldwide species and generalized genetic exchange. You can not have global movement of goods and people without the global spread of species and genetic material.

    Those are the sad facts.

    It certainly did not help that the US government retasked APHIS inspectors and their funding to the war on terror following 9/11 until the appalling results were exposed just recently. The US must now deal with the resulting uncontrolled introduction of such lovely pests as the Asian emerald ash borer and scores of other pests and diseases in the last 10 years.

    All we can do is increase quarantine and inspection efforts and try to slow the problem down. The only way to stop the on-going process is to shutdown global trade and movement. But really, the cat is out of the bag by now and we have already seen the global movement of many thousands of species of all kinds.

  14. A danger to the original biodiversity. Some species are invasive and some can become pests in places such as Solenopsis invicta in the USA or Linephitema humile or Tapinoma melanocephalum.

  15. Oh, and I had no idea Pseudomyrmex gracilis was a pest species. I’d known it was introduced, but has anyone tried to quantify the damage it has done/can do?

    1. Ps. gracilis is considered a nuisance pest in Florida, because it occasionally stings people while they are working or even just lounging around, under trees. Apparently, it is not what I call a displace-ive invasive, i.e. even when it inhabits natural habitats, native ants persist in seemingly “normal” abundance, even in the arboreal stratum that it occupies. I do not have data to back this up, though, and would be happy if someone could challenge any of these assertions with a proper study.

  16. In British Columbia I’ve recently identified several new beach-heads of Myrmica rubra. As we have nothing this annoying in the province it is creating quite a disturbance for homeowners unable to use their backyards (or allow small children and pets free in the yard). It is coming in on landscaping plants and hitting some expensive neighbourhoods. I’ve already had one property owner asking me what at $3.5 million (Can) home is worth with fire ants (he referred to his home as having ‘lawn herpes’).

    If anyone discovered that an infestation was initiated by someone actually buying these ants, this would quickly end up in court.

    When I went to their website, Myrmica rubra, was flashing up as a recommended species. Insane!

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  19. stores like this exist for a long time, and, for example, I have colonies of ants considered dangerous for a long time. What happens now is that there are online stores that allow everyone what you sell, and I can tell you that there was no problem until now there will be no more problems. And to end I think they should gather some information before you criticize: Most of the ants for a long time (two years or more) are kept in captivity do not survive in freedom, and still require specific levels of moisture, light and sometimes until specific insects which reduces the possibility of spreading to almost 0. Instead of closing dicutirem this site that “provoke a catastrophe” should criticize companies and everyday people who destroy quantities far greater than a football field (think 77 football fields) in the Amazon rainforest, but this is a real problem. However percrbo your position and accepted it.

  20. You people need to get a grip u bunch of bajist numpties! You are more or less fascists in my eyes telling people what they can or cannot do. This site is for people to buy and study ants in a confined artificial enviroment and a lot of people study them…. But of course if any of you had picked up a book and heard of entomology or myrmacology maybe you would get it ( but still highly doubtful). Grow up leave people alone and get on with your life instead of trying to making others miserable by ending quite a popular hobby

  21. One more thing… This post implies that people buy these ants and release them into the wild. I dont think so would you buy a dog and simply let it loose. It is a hobby like i said kept in a contained enviroment not just simply let out i dont know about you but im simply not into the habit of torching money

  22. Why should they dont sell Myrmica rubra?
    Here in Germany its a regular garden ant like Lasius niger!
    Its only invasive in USA so why shouldnt you keep them in Germany?

  23. Lord of the Swarm

    You dumb fuckers ought to be ashamed for reporting such a prestigious sight as spam. Do you know how hard it is to acquire a queen?!!!!!!!!

    1. So the solution to your incompetence in finding a queen ant is to ship billion-dollar pest species around the world?

  24. Im an ant enthusiast from the UK and have even tried buying solenopsis invicta from World of Ants (who has never offered these ants for sale). I know that they wouldnt even survive over here with our climate but I take every precaution that is necessary in escape prevention with all my ant colonies.You could say that owning ants poses the same risk as owning tropical fish and somehow they escape into our native environment or owning a house cat that decimates the local bird population. Pet owners need to be responsible to the risks of owning any animal!

    Please dont ruin our hobby. More people than ever need to become more bio literate to the wonders of ants and other fascinating insects. More than likely the human race wouldn’t even survive without these so called *pests*.

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  26. That´s right , in africa we have slave childs colonies and the problem is slave ants , f you green marxist

    The invasion of species is because of world trade, not ants keepers , imbecil

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