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My fellow Americans... bug law in the land of the free

legal law laws ant law

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Poll: Ant Law Poll (67 member(s) have cast votes)

Is US ant law fine as it is?

  1. yes (11 votes [16.42%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.42%

  2. no (44 votes [65.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 65.67%

  3. uncertian (12 votes [17.91%])

    Percentage of vote: 17.91%

Is US ant law keeping the hobby from growing?

  1. yes a lot (22 votes [32.84%])

    Percentage of vote: 32.84%

  2. yes a little (26 votes [38.81%])

    Percentage of vote: 38.81%

  3. not really (15 votes [22.39%])

    Percentage of vote: 22.39%

  4. don't know (4 votes [5.97%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.97%

Are ant keeping hobbyists dangerous to the environment?

  1. Yes, and something should be done. It's a huge problem. (1 votes [1.49%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.49%

  2. To a small degree yes. Concern is merited. (17 votes [25.37%])

    Percentage of vote: 25.37%

  3. Rarely. It's just a few people who make bad choices. The concern is overblown. (42 votes [62.69%])

    Percentage of vote: 62.69%

  4. Not at all. The concern is totally misplaced. (7 votes [10.45%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.45%

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#41 Offline kounelus - Posted July 22 2021 - 9:29 PM

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I have heard the argument about transmitting parasites, pathogens, or other various diseases, and while this is possibly a valid argument, the current ant laws actually cover this in a completely different way. It's not regulated by an interstate transit ban, but rather the fact that all plant pests, including ants, are illegal to release from captivity, ever. Yes, this is an actual law. I bet most people have never heard of it, because for some reason the antkeeping community only cares about the interstate transit ban and no other parts of the law.

I can't find the section where this is said on hand, but I'm sure I could with some digging and asking around. Even in the exact location where the ant was collected, you are unable to re-release them in the wild for the exact reason of spreading pathogens. With this regulation in place, surely interstate transit should have at least some restrictions lifted, no? Also, if the antkeeping community really cared about this possibility, surely they wouldn't be encouraging people to release colonies that they no longer want, or queens that end up being infertile. 

I'm not sure the antkeeping community as a whole does encourage people to release their colonies. I remember a few threads where people brought up releasing them and were told not to due to possible issues. Then others argued why they believed they should be able to release their colonies. So maybe the antkeeping community should make more of an effort to encourage people to not release their colony, but either find another keeper or freeze it. Especially since as you stated it is illegal to release them.

 

As for why you would still want to restrict the transport of ants is because people will release them. There's always going to be a certain percentage of people that will release their pets/colonies. Either from ignorance of the law, outright disregarding the law, or believing that there's such a small chance any of their specific colonies are infected/will survive that what's the harm. So by restricting the amount of exotic ants being kept, the percentage of releases might stay the same but the numbers of colonies released would be smaller.

 

Just like how people release their exotic reptiles, amphibians, or fish.


Edited by kounelus, July 22 2021 - 9:34 PM.

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#42 Offline JamesJohnson - Posted July 22 2021 - 10:13 PM

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A couple of things folks are forgetting here.
 
1. Just because it appears that the species occurs in more than one state. It is not at all impossible for there to be more than one look alike species involved and considering the level of taxonomic competence of the average ant hobbyist the odds of the mimic species being properly identified is virtually nil.
 
2. It is entirely possible that the members of a population in one location are hosts to parasites or a pathogen to which they may be resistant but the population in adjoining state are not. Personally I have no problem with the situation as it is, although admittedly some overall clarification would be nice.

Taxonomic issues should be considered, I agree. However they are not as common or widespread as many common US ants are, especially in states that are more well studied. There are certainly more sophisticated ways to deal with them rather than a blanket ban.
I have heard the argument about transmitting parasites, pathogens, or other various diseases, and while this is possibly a valid argument, the current ant laws actually cover this in a completely different way. It's not regulated by an interstate transit ban, but rather the fact that all plant pests, including ants, are illegal to release from captivity, ever. Yes, this is an actual law. I bet most people have never heard of it, because for some reason the antkeeping community only cares about the interstate transit ban and no other parts of the law.
I can't find the section where this is said on hand, but I'm sure I could with some digging and asking around.
Found it.

“ PPQ 526 Permit
The PPQ 526 permit for importation, interstate movement, possession, and/or release into the environment of:

Insects and Mites (other than Bees, Butterflies and Moths, and Biocontrol Organisms)”

I think this is the reason the laws a mess. There’s just such a enormous blanket ban on all species of not just all ants but all insects in general.
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#43 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 22 2021 - 11:08 PM

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There are currently 14,000 species of ants documented. It would take a large amount of knowledge to decide that even one of those species isn't a danger of becoming invasive when the possible results of a mistake would be billions of dollars in damage and the destruction of whole ecosystems. Meanwhile, many of these discovered species are virtually unstudied. Some of these unassuming ants, once moved to an alien environment, would spread and become an invasive species. It would only take a single person releasing a colony of the wrong ant in the wrong place to create the next Solenopsis invicta. Killing something that you have cared for for months or years is not an easy choice to make, and for many people a distant law or the relatively small danger of an ecological disaster is not enough to keep them from making the "humane" choice. As kounelus noted, pet owners release exotic animals all the time and many of those have established themselves as invasive species. Look at Burmese Pythons in Florida or invasive Koi around the world for examples of how much harm a released pet can do. With this in mind it is a given that we cannot completely lift the ban on exotic ants, and therefore the only way to allow access to exotics for keepers besides ensuring responsible containment through permits is selectively legalizing species like Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. And, as Cheeto noted, the ONLY species that has been deemed safe to transport this way still poses a risk of establishing itself as an invasive species. In my eyes, this is an argument against the legalization of transporting ants rather than for it. This shows that either it is very difficult to find a species that poses no threat of spreading, or that the legislators who would be handing selective legalization are incompetent. Or both. And even if a species is "incompatible" with local climates they still pose a risk of spreading to them. The reason that water-loving Linepithema humile has established in arid California and tropical Monomorium pharaonis lives virtually worldwide is that they are able to thrive in the disturbed ecosystems that we create and live in. This only increases the ways that exotic species can establish themselves. I personally believe that some species should be legalized if they can be confirmed without a doubt to not be a threat - but if it is done at all, it should be cautious to the extreme. If our hobby creates even one major invasive species by mistake we would be the cause of an incomprehensible amount of harm. As ant keepers we are able to appreciate the beauty of insect biodiversity in a way that most people can't, and thus should do our best to protect it rather than cause its destruction.

 

Edit: Corrected number of ant species. Thank you PurdueEntomology.


Edited by TestSubjectOne, July 23 2021 - 5:19 PM.

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TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#44 Offline PurdueEntomology - Posted July 23 2021 - 4:07 PM

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I think the current blanket ban on ants and other plant pests has a few glaring issues.

1: Species that are native to multiple states still cannot be transported between the states in which they are native, despite border colonies doing this naturally nearly every day.

2: Only the transport of ants between state lines is illegal, not actually keeping exotic species. Exotic ants that were imported via another source (I. E. a greenhouse) are legal to be kept by a hobbyist, as the hobbyist did not transport those ants between any state lines.

3: Ants that are native to states with wildly varying environments and climates can be transported freely within that state. Clearly there is hardly a concern for transporting ants of wildly different climates within their own state, so why is this a concern out of their state? Novomessor has just as good of a chance of getting established in Northern California as they do other northern states like Massachusetts or Wisconsin. When it's a clear non-threat to the environment, a regulation is redundant and unnecessary. 

4: The only reason why ants are restricted in the first place is their concern to the USDA as a plant pest, specifically to agricultural land and crops. This is a genuine concern with certain species, such as Atta, who can demolish large numbers of plants in a limited amount of time, or species like Solenopsis invicta, which is estimated to cause hundreds of millions of dollars in crop losses per year. However, the US has many native ants that are nearly 100% carnivorous, such as most Ponerinae, Amblyoponinae, Proceratinae, etc., which are all still restricted despite clearly not being a threat to any plants or agriculture.

5: Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. P. occidentalis being the one species to have essentially no regulations on interstate transit is pure idiocy. Being one of the most cold tolerant Pogonomyrmex species, their threshold for establishment in northeastern and midwestern states is far higher than the majority of other species, including most Pogonomyrmex and others. I strongly believe that sandy prairies in states like Illinois and Wisconsin could easily harbor exotic P. occidentalis populations, and if these populations were established they would almost certainly be damaging to native fauna. If P. occidentalis is without regulations for most states, then surely other species such as other Pogonomyrmex species and various other ants with niche habitats or diets that are unlikely to establish exotic populations outside of their state should also have their regulations lifted.
 

Hence the usage of "arbitrary" socio-political boundaries in implementing laws concerning organisms that fundamentally have no relationship to these imposed "borders" and "divisions".  


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#45 Offline PurdueEntomology - Posted July 23 2021 - 4:13 PM

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There are currently 8,800 species of ants documented, with an estimated total count of 20,000 species. It would take a large amount of knowledge to decide that even one of those species isn't a danger of becoming invasive when the possible results of a mistake would be billions of dollars in damage and the destruction of whole ecosystems. Meanwhile, many of these discovered species are virtually unstudied. Some of these unassuming ants, once moved to an alien environment, would spread and become an invasive species. It would only take a single person releasing a colony of the wrong ant in the wrong place to create the next Solenopsis invicta. Killing something that you have cared for for months or years is not an easy choice to make, and for many people a distant law or the relatively small danger of an ecological disaster is not enough to keep them from making the "humane" choice. As kounelus noted, pet owners release exotic animals all the time and many of those have established themselves as invasive species. Look at Burmese Pythons in Florida or invasive Koi around the world for examples of how much harm a released pet can do. With this in mind it is a given that we cannot completely lift the ban on exotic ants, and therefore the only way to allow access to exotics for keepers besides ensuring responsible containment through permits is selectively legalizing species like Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. And, as Cheeto noted, the ONLY species that has been deemed safe to transport this way still poses a risk of establishing itself as an invasive species. In my eyes, this is an argument against the legalization of transporting ants rather than for it. This shows that either it is very difficult to find a species that poses no threat of spreading, or that the legislators who would be handing selective legalization are incompetent. Or both. And even if a species is "incompatible" with local climates they still pose a risk of spreading to them. The reason that water-loving Linepithema humile has established in arid California and tropical Monomorium pharaonis lives virtually worldwide is that they are able to thrive in the disturbed ecosystems that we create and live in. This only increases the ways that exotic species can establish themselves. I personally believe that some species should be legalized if they can be confirmed without a doubt to not be a threat - but if it is done at all, it should be cautious to the extreme. If our hobby creates even one major invasive species by mistake we would be the cause of an incomprehensible amount of harm. As ant keepers we are able to appreciate the beauty of insect biodiversity in a way that most people can't, and thus should do our best to protect it rather than cause its destruction.

Scientific peer reviewed papers currently (those published within the past year) place the number of species at just over 14,000.  Not all ants are evolutionarily adaptive to be "invasive" and threatening when placed in a non-endemic space, actually the majority of ants would not be that way.  For example the majority of Dorylinae are predominately myrmecophagous in nature and thus would only survive if enough other ants were available and current understandings indicate most species are rather specific on the kinds of ants they feed on.  Upshot, I am not worried if a colony of Eciton burchelli is introduced to south Florida ( that would be interesting though).  


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#46 Offline NickAnter - Posted July 23 2021 - 5:12 PM

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Kadin, a single colony released in an area cannot spread effectively assuming they do not inbreed. If there is only one colony, even if they produce alates, which is frankly unlikely due to standard competition of native fauna, it takes numerous colonies together to create a stable gene pool. One Solenopsis invicta queen can't colonize a whole state...

 

Is there a known case of a parasite transported from one population to a new population of a same species in a different area? I am genuinely curious here Dr. Snelling. Historical precedent is a valuable source of judgement.

 

Lets say, for example, I move to Tennessee. Some of the species I have are not native to Tennessee, and in the possible case of my Temnothorax, have a chance at surviving were they to be released. However, to make a law based upon the possible action of a very small group of people is like saying it should be illegal to have take a large kitchen knife across state lines for fear someone go on a murderous rampage with it, or accidentally cut someone's toe off by dropping it. I hope my analogy is clear there, if rather oversimplified.


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Hi there! I went on a 6 month or so hiatus, in part due, and in part cause of the death of my colonies. 

However, I went back to the Sierras, and restarted my collection, which is now as follows:

Aphaenogaster uinta, Camponotus vicinus, Camponotus modoc, Formica cf. aserva, Formica cf. micropthalma, Formica cf. manni, Formica subpolita, Formica cf. subaenescens, Lasius americanus, Manica invidia, Pogonomyrmex salinus, Pogonomyrmex sp. 1, Solenopsis validiuscula, & Solenopsis sp. 3 (new Sierra variant). 


#47 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 23 2021 - 5:41 PM

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Scientific peer reviewed papers currently (those published within the past year) place the number of species at just over 14,000.

My mistake. I used a source that was massively out of date without double checking it.

 

 

Not all ants are evolutionarily adaptive to be "invasive" and threatening when placed in a non-endemic space, actually the majority of ants would not be that way.

 

 


I don't believe that all ants are a risk in this regard, or most, but those that do exist are dangerous and hidden among the others.


TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#48 Offline gcsnelling - Posted July 24 2021 - 2:35 AM

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Is there a known case of a parasite transported from one population to a new population of a same species in a different area? I am genuinely curious here Dr. Snelling. Historical precedent is a valuable source of judgement.

 

To my knowledge it has never been studied with regards to ants. However it has been studied with regard to other critters. It has been shown to be a potential issue with butterfly releases. Additionally it has been implicated in the severe impact of a tortoise respiratory disease on California desert tortoises as a result of intentional releases by well meaning folks releasing long term captives which of course were instantly doomed to death. It is the reason it is generally illegal to release any wildlife which has been held captive for more than a few minutes. In California for example if I trap a skunk in my backyard about as far as I carry it for release is to the street, or it it must be euthanized.

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#49 Offline futurebird - Posted July 24 2021 - 5:38 AM

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When the public has harmed the environment by releasing pets it's been with reptiles and fish often sold in pet stores, by an uninformed public trying to be humane by releasing their turtle or fish. And this had to happen more than just once or twice. (also I think some cases of lazy breeders who ought to have known better releasing tons of babies they just didn't want)

 

The popularity of insect pets is tiny compared with vertebrates. And you need to "learn" before you can keep a colony. We could make "never release" a part of that. It'd be prudent and probably close the main door for the unlikely event of being the cause of an invasion. We haven't as pet keepers been responsible for any other invasions.

 

What's the harm in teaching "We want the general public to like ants and ant keepers. That's why you should never release a colony."

 

What about letting alates fly? I doubt there is any serious danger for a locally caught and kept colony... BUT with rule like this KISS is the name of the game (Keep It Simple Stupid)

 

So just don't release anything. Hm?


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Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#50 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 24 2021 - 9:59 AM

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When the public has harmed the environment by releasing pets it's been with reptiles and fish often sold in pet stores, by an uninformed public trying to be humane by releasing their turtle or fish. And this had to happen more than just once or twice. (also I think some cases of lazy breeders who ought to have known better releasing tons of babies they just didn't want)

 

The popularity of insect pets is tiny compared with vertebrates. And you need to "learn" before you can keep a colony. We could make "never release" a part of that. It'd be prudent and probably close the main door for the unlikely event of being the cause of an invasion. We haven't as pet keepers been responsible for any other invasions.

 

What's the harm in teaching "We want the general public to like ants and ant keepers. That's why you should never release a colony."

 

What about letting alates fly? I doubt there is any serious danger for a locally caught and kept colony... BUT with rule like this KISS is the name of the game (Keep It Simple Stupid)

 

So just don't release anything. Hm?

Your assumption is that antkeepers will collectively agree to follow these rules. However, Formiculture is scarcely representative of every antkeeper in the U.S. in different communities or those who are independent of any. Some people will still choose to release their exotic colonies, just like many people already illegally release their native ant species. There are communities of responsible, educated reptile and fish keepers who I'm sure take the threat of releasing their pets seriously, yet as you said the "uninformed public" still keeps these animals and some of them end up releasing them. The barrier of entry for keeping ants is much, much lower than that for keeping reptiles or fish and therefore you can assume that it would be even more common for people to jump into the hobby without researching even the first thing about caring for ants, buy a colony of an interesting ant online, and then get bored after a few months and let them go in their back yard. And while I agree that one colony being released is most likely not going to cause any issues, they still are more of a threat than any lone individual of most insects because they can theoretically found new colonies on their own. Granted, I believe that most species of ants avoid interbreeding and colonies established this way will have a higher chance of genetic issues, but the possibility is still there. And what if the same person chose to release multiple colonies of the same species, or released a species that fertilizes new queens inside the nest?


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TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#51 Offline gcsnelling - Posted July 24 2021 - 12:41 PM

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I almost miss a previous member here who would go totally bat guano crazy when this topic would come up. I can still picture him breaking keyboard after keyboard as he pounded out his bizarre, venomous responses, eyes spinning in opposite directions, foaming at the mouth, sparks flaring between his horns, gnashing his fangs, stamping his cloven hooves.


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#52 Offline futurebird - Posted July 24 2021 - 4:59 PM

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If it makes you feel better I can start all of my posts with "listen idiot..." that's always a great way to have a useful conversation.  :lol:


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Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#53 Offline ANTdrew - Posted July 24 2021 - 5:29 PM

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I almost miss a previous member here who would go totally bat guano crazy when this topic would come up. I can still picture him breaking keyboard after keyboard as he pounded out his bizarre, venomous responses, eyes spinning in opposite directions, foaming at the mouth, sparks flaring between his horns, gnashing his fangs, stamping his cloven hooves.

Good ol’ Venny D! I’ve been waiting for him to show up and take this thread way off the rails.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#54 Offline TennesseeAnts - Posted July 24 2021 - 6:02 PM

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A couple of things folks are forgetting here.

 

1. Just because it appears that the species occurs in more than one state. It is not at all impossible for there to be more than one look alike species involved and considering the level of taxonomic competence of the average ant hobbyist the odds of the mimic species being properly identified is virtually nil.

 

2. It is entirely possible that the members of a population in one location are hosts to parasites or a pathogen to which they may be resistant but the population in adjoining state are not. Personally I have no problem with the situation as it is, although admittedly some overall clarification would be nice.

Taxonomic issues should be considered, I agree. However they are not as common or widespread as many common US ants are, especially in states that are more well studied. There are certainly more sophisticated ways to deal with them rather than a blanket ban.

I have heard the argument about transmitting parasites, pathogens, or other various diseases, and while this is possibly a valid argument, the current ant laws actually cover this in a completely different way. It's not regulated by an interstate transit ban, but rather the fact that all plant pests, including ants, are illegal to release from captivity, ever. Yes, this is an actual law. I bet most people have never heard of it, because for some reason the antkeeping community only cares about the interstate transit ban and no other parts of the law.

I can't find the section where this is said on hand, but I'm sure I could with some digging and asking around. Even in the exact location where the ant was collected, you are unable to re-release them in the wild for the exact reason of spreading pathogens. With this regulation in place, surely interstate transit should have at least some restrictions lifted, no? Also, if the antkeeping community really cared about this possibility, surely they wouldn't be encouraging people to release colonies that they no longer want, or queens that end up being infertile. 

 

 

2: Only the transport of ants between state lines is illegal, not actually keeping exotic species. Exotic ants that were imported via another source (I. E. a greenhouse) are legal to be kept by a hobbyist, as the hobbyist did not transport those ants between any state lines.

 

If someone who had a permit for an exotic species captive bred them and then gave them away to people who didn't have permits, would that be legal? I agree with your points on how the law doesn't make sense, either way you slice it, whether for or against exotics, it definitely needs a rework.

 

I believe it would be a violation of the permit, as the permits only allow the species to be held at the address listed at the permit and not spread. If the permit holder moves or moves the ants to a new address, the permit needs to be updated. However, the recipient(s) of the exotic species would not be breaking any laws.

 

I actually knew that as of about a year ago, and wondered the same thing. The truth is, the government is lazy and blanket laws are easy.


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#55 Offline fdsffdsdsdfds - Posted July 25 2021 - 10:25 AM

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1. yes

2. yes

3. yes

4. yes

5. yes

6. yes

7. yes



#56 Offline 11.11.00 - Posted July 25 2021 - 11:40 AM

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On one hand, I understand these laws since america has a robust agriculture industry as well as diverse native ants that will be affected by invasive ants or other organisms transmitted by invasive ants and unlike Europe, America does have the climate to support many invasive ants from other areas due to the lack of strong winters. 

 

On the other hand, it would be nice to have a whitelist of species and generas that are legal to keep and ship in all 50 states, but that could just be my selfish thinking


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#57 Offline NicholasP - Posted July 26 2021 - 2:27 PM

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Here is a question why is this topic getting bad reviews? It's really good in my opinion since it allows us to talk about and legality issues.


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#58 Offline MysticNanitic - Posted July 31 2021 - 9:38 PM

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I agree, it’s complicated and makes for interesting discussion IMO. I’ll bump the conversation again with a point that I don’t think has been been covered here yet:

The limitation of inter-state transport is due to the way the US government works. States have a lot of power, after all, they were all needed to vote to ratify the constitution because they already existed under the Articles of Confederation.

The federal govt can make laws, but state govts are responsible for enforcing them, with few exceptions. Marijuana is illegal nationally (for now), but states can opt not to enforce. But try taking it on a flight from one legal pot state to another adjacent legal pot state and you run into trouble. When federal crimes cross state lines, it’s the federal govt’s jurisdiction. Even crossing a state line to commit a crime on the other side can put you in federal court.

States can certainly have their own nuanced rules about moving species around within a state, but there just isn’t room for nuance federally. Federal invasive species rules stop you in the place they can, when crossing state lines.
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#59 Offline mantisgal - Posted August 10 2021 - 6:18 PM

mantisgal

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Can't remember now (Attenborough's "Empire of the Ants" iirc) but there is at least one instance of an ant species being introduced to a new environment, out-competing the local ants, and causing an ecosystem failure cascade since the ant they replaced had evolved to spread certain plant seeds and the new guys did everything in their niche but that.

#60 Offline Mdrogun - Posted August 10 2021 - 10:44 PM

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Something notable to mention is that many people, including the USDA, have made the assumption that the only "invasive" species are from other states or continents. This is simply not true.

 

When I was a young kid at the age of roughly 10 years old, I received a Tapinoma sessile colony as a gift when I purchased a Camponotus pennsylvanicus colony from somebody. I picked them up in Central IL. Drove back up to my home in Northern IL that was in the Chicago suburbs, realized I didn't have two nests, and asked my parents "what should I do with these ants?" I got told to "release them". I did as my parents told me, and got to watch as a 5 queen ~100 worker Tapinoma sessile colony expanded rapidly, killing off many other species in my yard as I grew up, such as the Crematogaster cf. cerasi that inhabited one side of my house.

Oftentimes, the most potent invasives are ants that are already near your area but not in your exact location. Whether they be native to your state as a whole or from somewhere else entirely. The reason for this is quite obvious. Firstly, ants do not have any concept of states, and their native ranges often include some, but not all, of a state. Secondly, if I go online and order ants from Central America or Tropical Asia, they would most likely not be able to survive in 99%+ of the United States, and even that 1% is a stretch. The second winter hits, they'd be toast. However, invasives that are already semi-established in the state or "natives" that are not currently present in certain areas can EASILY adapt to your very similar climate and overthrow the spp. present.

 

Therefore, it's actually much more likely in my opinion that you are to do damage moving ants around within the state than you are to do damage importing them from foreign nations or other states. For example, if I were to catch Tetramorium tsushimae in St. Louis (on the Illinois side of the city) and release them in Chicago, that has a muchhhhhh higher likelihood of causing substantial damage than me catching ants from Florida and releasing them in Chicago. However, releasing the T. tsushimae from St. Louis in Chicago would be 100% legal. The climate over long distances is almost always just too different for ants to invade. instead of looking for dangers from afar like a paranoid doomsday-er, it's more likely dangers are much closer to home.

I feel like this is something so commonly overlooked. It also makes the state line rule seem all that more arbitrary and idiotic.

 

In my opinion, we could very, very easily establish a world where there is very little regulation and quite free ant movement. The best way to do this would be first to consider an ants' native range. If you're within their native range, go for it. If you're not in their native range, we should establish a "climate hardiness rating" like the USDA currently has for plants. Ordering ants from overseas? Just make sure the climate hardiness zone you're importing them into is not one they can survive in.

 

This proposed system would still have some flaws, obviously. To name a couple: Even considering climate hardiness, many, many species would still not be able to survive in your area if imported. Many spp. would be unnecessarily restricted. There is also the chance that a species could survive alongside humanity, like in an urban area, but in my opinion this isn't really a negative thing. As urban areas have usually lost most if not all of their native biodiversity to begin with. There's also the whole issue of categorization, enforcement, etc.

 

However, I feel like this is a vastly better solution than the system we have currently in place. It actually is based somewhat on the reality of ants' biology, and not just where our forefathers decided to draw lines on the map, while still taking into account the potential (although highly unlikely) threat that ants could pose.


Edited by Mdrogun, August 10 2021 - 10:52 PM.

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Currently Keeping:
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

Pheidole pilifera

Forelius sp. (Monogynous, bicolored) "Midwestern Forelius"
Crematogaster cerasi

Pheidole bicarinata

Aphaenogaster rudis

Camponotus chromaiodes

Formica sp. (microgena species)

Nylanderia cf. arenivega






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