Hundreds of ants discovered in unopened box after eight months

A bizarre hoard of ants stored in 250 individual tubes shocked workers who opened a mystery sealed box.

Incredibly some of the ants were still wriggling inside their tiny containers, despite having nothing to live off for eight months.

The surviving critters will be rescued by a safari park keeper after a company that buys unclaimed boxes from delivery companies, reported their find to the RSPCA.

Lucy Smith from the animal charity's Folkestone branch in Kent where the box was open, admitted the discovery was "confusing".

The welfare officer said a tiny bit of tissue inside each tube must have kept some of the ants alive for all that time cooped up in the dark, KentOnline reports.

She said: "It was a very confusing one for me.

"The company in Folkestone buys unclaimed packages and it can take them a few months to open them.

"We noticed that the posting label said January.

"There was a little bit of tissue in each tube, probably soaked with something, which I think had been sustaining the ants.

"We didn't know what species they were, whether they were from this country or somewhere else.

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"I called so many people to try and find help for the ants, we wanted to give them a chance."

In an attempt to hunt down an insect expert to check out the ants, Ms Smith made several calls until speaking to a man registered on the British Vet Association's website.

Ms Smith said that within an hour of their conversation, the expert arrived to see the ants.

She said: "Apparently it is quite common to send ants in the post as people set up ant farms."

A staff member from Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire has agreed to care of the surviving insects, of which queens live for 30 years and workers up to three years.

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