Taipei- Miaoli police on Wednesday arrested a man on suspicion of smuggling exotic ants from China and selling them over the Internet.
Police seized 1,115 non-native ants of various species at the 35-year-old man's home on Wednesday after acting on a tip-off provided late last year by the Council of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ).
The ants originated mainly in Southern Europe and Xinjiang, China. One species can sting, causing red, swollen spots that last for about two days, according to the police.
The man bought the ants on Taobao, a Chinese online shopping website, for NT$200-500 (US$6.35-15.86) per batch of 10 ants and they were delivered to Taiwan by a logistics company, police said.
He then raised the ants and sold them on Facebook for three times the original price, selling about 10 batches of ants over the past year, police added.
Lin Chung-chi (???), an associate professor at National Changhua University of Education's Department of Biology, who is assisting the police examine and identify the ants, said there were at least six species, two of which could prove harmful to crops and the environment if released.
According to the BAPHIQ, the man could face a sentence of three years in jail and/or a fine of up to NT$150,000 for smuggling ants into Taiwan in violation of the Plant Protection and Quarantine Act.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel