Ant music

A music player is packed with more than music

Gadget fans beware: if you buy an MP3 player somewhere tropical, it may already be occupied.

A New Zealander returning from a trip to Fiji last month opened the player he’d bought at a duty-free outlet in Nadi, only to find it crawling with exotic ants.

Biosecurity New Zealand spokesman Phillip Barclay says the ants turned out to be Singapore ants, which are also known by the scientific name Monomorium destructor.

The bad news is that Singapore ants are predators of other insects, gnaw holes in plastic and fabric and attack the plastic in electrical instruments.

The good news, however, says Barclay, is that the ants in the player were worker ants, “and so wouldn’t have been able to establish a colony”.

The owner of the Olympus MP3 player did the right thing by calling MAF as soon as the critters were discovered, Barclay says.

“They called our hotline and we asked them to put the player and packaging in the freezer, to kill the ants and provide samples.”

Bait was laid in the house, but no more ants were discovered, he says.

A music player is “an unusual pathway”, for ants, he says. “But it’s not surprising, because ants can and do contaminate everything and electrical goods are often found to contain ants.”

Anyone who finds ants in a device from overseas should call MAF’s hot­line, 0800-809 966, Barclay says.

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