A Gainesville, Florida, researcher has made a discovery that could strike a blow against those pesky and painful red fire ants.
Steven Valles of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has discovered a natural cold-like virus in the invasive pet species. It's the first time a virus has ever been found in the fire ants.
The imported ants cause an estimated $6 billion in agricultural damage and various expenditures every year. The ants were accidentally imported from Brazil to Florida and Alabama in the beginning part of the 20th Century. The ants have since infested more than 320 million acres in 14 states across the Southeast.
The ants have been held in check in Brazil by natural enemies. But the researcher's discovery could help stem the tide of the ants.