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Dead fire ant queen found in private home in Osaka Pref.

A red imported fire ant is seen on Nov. 9, 2009. (Photo courtesy of the Environment Ministry)

YAO, Osaka -- The body of a queen fire ant, an alien species with a toxic sting, has been discovered at a private house here, the Environment Ministry said on May 10.

The body was found in a cardboard box containing an electrical appliance made in China. It was the first of the invasive insects reported found in Japan this year, and also the first ever discovered in a private house.

According to the ministry, the cardboard box was packed at a factory in China in early April. It was unloaded from a cargo ship at Osaka Port in mid-April and kept in a warehouse in the city of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, before being shipped to Yao.

The person who bought the appliance on May 9 found the dead queen when opening the box. The person reported the ant to the import company, which then informed the ministry.

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