Two destructive Texas ants


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Two destructive Texas ants
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Hunter, W. D ( Walter David ), 1875-1925
Government Printing Office ( Washington )
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U.S. 1)A.',I'. I EN 1O1 \(GII(IJI.T IO'RE,
S I I .\I )W. .,nIw.ii anI Chie t al Burea.



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lot I ,,i l, "1 .'*.iil,,r , I rior 1,,>,' [, r' .'.*/,,' ,

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HI/HI .I OF o .\ I. % iM (, it j .

L. 0. 1lowAKU, IA.l.iP.,,,,'hqii and 'hi,' f of Burcau.
C. IL. IMAILATT, i'ifofMolOqliSt ald Acting (Chief in A bcince of hiilrf.
Rt. S. CLIFTON, Execcative Assistant.
\W. F. TASTET, C 7 ,f r' i11,

F. 11. I 'lii I'TENDEN, il' cl('j(YC of Ir'iCk, crop iinl i ,I'red product in.swct in I .I ,yitsjni.%.
A. I). HOPKINS, inll charge of forcst insect inir, 'li'jfilii'.N.
WV 1lu. Ni'rERI, in charity of southern ficld crop in.sccl in rcfsigationms.
F. M. \Wi iR. I I in charge of ccrual and forage insect incstigations.
A. L. QUAINTANCE, in chliargc of deciduous fruit insert inlrustig nations.
E. F. PIIIILIIS, iln charg('C of bcc' cultur'.
I). M. RO(;l-RS, in, chiargc of 1 iW;,I .'qsprcad of w,,0' ,f, I 1 ir'lrk.
IOLII.A I'. ('Ci'IRI inl chlir(c of (editorial work.
MAIBE (' COLCOrD, in ,charg"<' of library.


W. I). HUNTER, in clhargc.

F; C. BISHlO'P, A. II. JENNINGS, 11. 1'. WooD, AV. V. KIN(G, C0ugagid in tick lif,
history investigations.
W. 1). IPlIEICE, (. I). SMITH, J. I). MITCHELL, IhARRY I CNKUS, It. It. Ci1 l1. ;. WV.
.:i i1. \NIl. e(ngaig(d in cttlon-boll ir. rif incsfliglftions.
A. (C. Gil:'.\. (;. A. RUNNER, S. E. CRUMiB, D. C. n'ARMAN, niii i in Iol'ir''
insect investigations.
T. E. HOLLOWAY, E. II. BARBER, <('1iftl/ 1d in sugar caunc insect inc cstigation.s
E. A. MCGREGOR, WV. A. THOMAS, f ,'1ii( d i l i, l fIsitir' and oithler cotton insect
J. L. WNEBB1, engaged d in rice insect inrcsltigations.
I. A. COOLEY, D. L. VAN DINE, A. F. CONRADI, C. C. Ki"UMBIi .\.\. collaboralo V.

CIRCULAH No. 148. 1 -, I \\ r I., It 1i

United States Department of Agriculture,

L 0. HOWARD. Eni.inm,)l,i:in and Chief of Bureau.

By W. 1) HMIN .n1
In ( hiti, of ls fith rni I /ylll-'rnf fn-arrt l irt'tlityiolts.

(Ata tIcranu iHlukley.)

The so-called cutting or paras-! ant (At/it /f.,'.rit i. ickhev) is well
known to residents of the rii.'ii, in which it occurs. The cohinies
are lnhitel in .-;iII lv -,il, generally in the timber, aiid consist rf low
niinnds ofr (onsiderahle extent covered with numiero-us crateriI about
1\l inches in diameter. Tlih ants have the habit of ',iitin.L the leaves
from a great variety of plants and of carl viiih them to their nests.
In inlyv cases the attack is concentrated on one tree, which imay be
entirely defoliated in a -inghl, Iliglt. I'lie species is of a reddish-
brown color. The colonies contain individuals ho"i(,ig w g,.at dif-
fren, v, in size, as will be explained later.

Tile rtiii.,' of this -p,'i i. is rather restricted. It is known only
from a limited area in south-central Texas. This area extends- from
the Brfliz,- River as north as Waco to the (Giulf, wes-tward :is far
as San .Ani ,Ibi. and southward to the vicinity of Alice. The ant is
nilost comnion in the vall.\- of the Colorado, (0ai'ilidiip. Coinal, and
Siall Antonio IRiver-. In these situations it is evidently iiv'.:-ii'.
in numbers from year to yeair. In mniiny cases the nests ii"rilpy the
land practically continuously for many miles up and down the vall'..

The nests consist of inhergroludII chanIilr with several opei)iLh,--
or craters. Tlie surplus opeinlieurg-, seem to bI)e provided for the pur-
pose f veintil.i ing the underground plai-.ige-.. The nests are located
2642'-Cir. I -S-12


..1,I,,.',inly in sandy soil. The more compact soils seemi to be un-
favorable for their construction. A very common location for a
colony is a sandy promontory, well liglitet i by the sun, in the bend
of a river.
The large irreg.ilar mounds are due to the leveling by the wind
and rains of the circular rid'lger-, of sand, brought from beneath
the surface. which -l'rro)Illind (h flip .iril.s. (.ConI-e(|ii tlY. each of
li11.i iioiiil]-. i-, 1ii indication of the aI ti' vit' f li aI nt-' for niiyiiv years.
{''nie;itli ti"-c mo izIII- a' iilul 'lroiz-- c( aiii'-ber" coilliet-'ed I, v inairrow
pnsiage-. niind iin' miyi lie direct connection i-' tlie- clianinel over
;iI aria if several I 1,ndred -quare feet.
I'll, I,:liK- of tin- ii t''t have attracted greaitat teiitionll firoi .cien-
liit- aid others. Telit ;i:.s rut tlie lea eve- friiin tre. aindil carry
lieII l fI I lie' ii '-t-. F'Ii leif i- finely dlivilded ind made ilt, smalll
p'eleth-. II (lli> Nirk hli : ,mnil elllh- :ial l'd.u oIf Ili' ailts are ; i' utilized.
i'1l lie iail li:l--, il'' pll.'eil Ii)Oii tlie 'o-'caiied flungus garden, wliere
Ill(-' fiirl i-lii gi', ii\i}i miie' 111iii for ll lie L'lrowlli of ai funllll, which
t'flili ie-l-, tlilte col''li\ w'itli food. As tlile sul y of flunlligUs is con-
.lilii,'il Itillu' :filt, l1 (o ili' old ina-, -o Ilhat evenitually thle inest are
tf', aiil I' ri ',lit;,ili ll il'gt' -"i" iigv fO r'iin t ii.S foil thI' outer por'tioni of
\\ lii,.-li li [ leilld r lar'(tid- of Hlit, flli aii r', a rc ^ iig. Evidenfly
tlie ;nItl- xer'i-_'r at '' art.i 'e ili )re\v 'lii ii tle co ait lil i:ationl of tlhe
Iiiii ii', gil'lt', li any aii il tin' -ole -p|evit of fliung'i, tliat i utilized.
Til i ili : i :'tivye tihrouglighout tlie greater part of thlie year. Inll
flit. it I.-'rolic- qilit't f"r oldiy a ve'v syliiort tiit' "lien tlhe winter
.('11l i:- nlist -\vere. It i- dlisinclined'l to work during vern hot
\we:itlier. D)iirinin th i' col'r n' montlis its activity extendIs thirough-
oilt thie ';ix, Iil during the s minmer it is confined to the night. TIhe
dilis.tain'e over whih'li foraging expeditions take place mny lie 200
ya rds or eve ianllore. Practically all -pecies of plants seem to be
-iiitaihle f'or foll. aIltlhoilghl it i- noticeaile tliat mily one species is
iti(ackedtl at a; tlime. Dr '. W. M. Wheeler. wImo hais nmadle v'erv careful
itilie- of ilii-e aitnt. li;s noted tliat tlie samille colony 'mnav feed upon
.1 wide variety of plants at different timnies. ibut lie never observed
tilt- inldivkhIiida..- of aI colony coller-ting different varieties at the same
Iliit'.' Alonig multix'natd 'i''I -. c t-toi. .cirnli. fruit trees., -orighum,
:iiai ii1:,iv others ar'e attacked. Among wild plants, forest trees aire
flavorii'']. and frequently tile S panisl moss is u"ed. Thie various
-ieci t S of oaks seem to Ibe more or hle-s imininie. either onl account
if li' ti texture f thlie leaves or thlie tainni ai'id tihey contain. This
iliiiiiii v i No I- aYI' libsalli ali.,ollitei liowve tar. :1W Dee. 11-iooler :and1 M r.
. I. 1). l M il. ]ilIl li.,m ,ll.,rv.dl' l lv lt- lie a:tikili i,-(. )f Ilcli r-oug1h]i
a:i\ ;i, l "e ii flilw live :dik.
1 Wheeler, W. i. The I'i-i- i l..ra Ants of North America. Bul. Amer. Mus. Nat.
nist., vol. 23:, Article XXXI, pp. 729-742.

Thle j'cdliei. (if this ant are formed 1\ tlhe Jlli.ll "f the females to
so,1V point not l':,r distant fIi,, tIm nsl. "I,. queen f Ili li1-. Tliv i-
lI ie tl, twil -Ia i ri.. Il,.I,-il a sImall -quantity of tlw f'iiiL.;'i- from
the l i,,riir,.il nii-t, iand on it depIosits I ni ImI ,er of id 1 -

Thii- anlit ocCur1 in Ii forsI'I, inalmely. so)hldieilrs. la N (I L Irker
(media), al.ll w\orlkels (linimiai). alehs. and t'. m.des. 'Th.. soldiers
are from 10 to 12 mini. in rii .iq, l iih VMnorimoiiWlNv developedd liai.
The b.iri'i, w hl',i-. or imeuia I'ar emilvh tlile Qhllir-*. allii,,il, tihe
liAdI is moiwienlit sniinllvr. mand tliv 1i iiutlh of t1e Ihody is between
3 and 9 n n. T 'l stimall worker r f. 1 ii-. (aill, d mlillillll, ire fro1im 1.i
ti) 2.."7 mnm. ini Iriiitl. Tihe heald is still smlnaller tlihan ill tinh medi.
EachI) of tlihese three forms hll A special finctlioon in tli ime nt. 11,.
sihlr lr- arell concernedd priniimarily with iltw iilectiion of ihe niet.
Tlhe, d-- ot -(in.L' but bite with Itheir nianldible", which ;cll ar11,, 'm
t'li0i1li to dlrIiNw blood. The hi ,_, workers lind s;ll workers ;i're
li.iied principally with ll 1. .t1,I f leaves for the f ,,i.,- itherden
:in,] tlil, prep)arltion of the ntieriail l \\i w ii1ch tlhe fung11 '.'!'' -.
Thlie reinmiiiinig ',wi ii t are the miiale- .iil fenmiales. Thvese aire inlmmch
irger than tlHie oithier forisil. The feinale is about i 1- in. in hlii gth.
The color is dark brown. ..llli,..1,i the l,._- are soimewihat r,-lili-li.
Thv ptinoily is covered withi deie t:iw nyV hair. 'I Ilil- w,\ l-. iiihli are
shed soon after the thlili 'f the queen, larle reddish hi-lrowi, e'-pecia:lly
:iuiid ilw llanterior border-. Tih, miale are f'roi 13 to 1 iiim. Iii.'
with n eliad iII' small Nize which (contrasts 'i ..itl\ vitli tlhat of tlie.
worker frmiii.. TV'l,. hody is densely Movere1d witlhi ,',i Pellowish
Ihiir-. as i ihe cIN ie "itli tlie femniales.


Thi f.';I t tlha:t this alit does not l oiit ine to at50tack ione specie'. of
pjhlit, but ci.:iidim.- from one to another at fi',ii'iii
intleri':il-. calwie- it to be of less importance in tlieh detruction of
veeti .il i t hant it o ild bI e otheirwise. NevertlIeles, tie 1 .ii,Ie
to lrowi i- crop- is f Iii..iitily I eavy, a v d ,., i iit.iiti. i:ive becoImIe
Imore )In'merosI i recemit VeVIIrs on ai ccou111t of the greater IIIabundanceIi
of the IanI In iiiaII places coIIn-iderable area'1 o If land are not
l.i it.,I to Irolp on account oIll f the 1l.i1' i of attack. In iall s.hli
itIuat ions it is necessary to rteorI' to r1,.,I I--ive vIIeaiIs.
ri. best nwmethod it' control is undoubtedly lv 1,meanI of pt)sii-iumn
eiiinil.' Mr. J. I. l Mitl Ill ha-l conducted the .liI i Iihi.i-t upon
Ms I't it (f t t Wd li iil ', ,I i ll ti WlVo r ,,oi ( ti u nlllb ns' iitMi Iis llt' I fll vw, M wara.f Its. 'jlhl lnnl Wn. 'o'nl. (Sfp .lim mni +if ori'inl lnir j-If t-my, vol. 1,
pp. 34, -i I34, o i Mr II 0. Mf r lis \ is.! ,i-. l It i, I;ui ;;4 IP IX. 1o S
I elki Agr., iur Il i pl 71 7, fl P1 i



which this conclusion is based. He used 98 per' cent. potassium
cYaniid at the rate of 1 ounce to 1 quart of water. After careful
mixing this liquid was poured into each of the openings in several
nests, a quart to each opening. In every case it was found that the
destruction of the colony followed after one or two applications.
The cost of this method is small, but of course will assume consider-
able proportions in areas where the ants are very numerous. Even
under such conditions it will hundo)btedly well pay for the expense
and is advised above all methods that can be followed.
The use of carbon bisulphid is not practical on account of the very
extensive excavations the ants make in the sand. Some may be killed,
but effective work can not be done unless the insecticide is forced into
the earth by pressure, and this requires special apparatus. Moreover,
the expense would be much greater than in the case of the cyanid
method just described.
Some years ago certain persons in southern Texas followed the
destruction of this ant as a regular business. They used sulphur and
a special apparatus for forcing the fumes into the nests. The ma-
chine consisted of an oven in which the sulphur was burned. The
fumes were passed through a pipe by forced draft, and the end of
this pipe was inserted into the ground in the middle of the colony.
Before the oven was started all of the openings of the nest were care-
fully closed. It is said that remarkable success accompanied this
method. It may be found to be advisable to use this method for
li rge areas of the infested lands or where several planters can
Mr. C. L. Marlatt has described a method of destruction of ants
which is in use in Cuba:
It consists in digging a hole 6 feet deep by 3 or 4 feet wide in the midst of
the viliiy. This hole is filled with dry brush and a roaring fire started. Into
this is then poured a bucketful of Iwo-dered sulphur. The opening is closed
with a large iron Iplate. Through a hole in thw center of this plate air Is
forced down into the burning mass with a large bellows.'

(Pogo(nom yrme x barbatmqu on-,i f[r.i,,,, Buckley.)
The nests of the agricultural or hillock ant (Poi,/oinyrmnex bar-
batis mole facwcns Buckley) are conspicuous in the territory in which
the'v occur on account of the fact that the ants do not allow any
v,.gcttiton to grow in a circular area about them. The mounds are
15 inches or more in diameter and are frequently covered with parti-
cles of earth or sand from beneath the surface which contrast strongly
with the iirrounding soil. The bare areas around the mound may
be 10 feet or more in diameter.
I See W. M Wheeler: Ants, their structure, etc., p. 577, 1910.

TWO I'I I -I I ; tI'TIV\ \N I

I)tT111111 t TION.

Tih' ant ocrs 'iii the Ir-S Waivnr 16 szwalrd.
W'e St of S1iI AIntonio it is reIlaced ly close, .ly llo I forisl., lF;i riher1
liritii. in lKansas and Nehra'ika. aI distic lspcite ( P. ,i<',/,/,ft,/l
S'Ir'-,-.) o4'ccllrs. Tihe :i.i l,'ililu I a tli is coii ciiiuoiusly ai resident of
q|inli plau, '-e and does noi oclr it] \ 11 AH TS.
I I AMirH.

This lant swarms iI' verl ill the fi 'lsoIi. .''i.lly after i ra ii1. At
such times thie animals andt feiiales cmine lit of the iest iIi in'.il Im-
ber'.. co\riiin- the .'r, iiid for mani fni'e. W.iii,- takes iihlce ait iiis
tiile., ifil'l" which the females ly lViaway. Vlu'n ti ily ahligt their
', ilig- are cast and il,,\ !',cil, to di.- a cell for a new colony. The
male aftl'l.r inililii.L' arev dlriv'n aWny IV tin-h workers or skilled if t hey
persist in ritiiriii,. to the ntst. At the iiiie of tiis sw'a1i',iiiLiiiiih uti-
tudes of the aiilts aire destri md by birds iid it horinied lizards.
Mailiy Vf;irs :i.lo it was annoUiceld tlhiatI the i,_ Ii 'i uliral lani actIl-
illy plinits ceritaiii iir:i --e- i1 order to obt ain quatl itii's f seeCd to use
in i[ro\ i-iiliiiIi the niiests. In fact, it was on t hiii siulposition that
one of the conimon names which ha ie comIn inte i use w as V. iilI it.
I'i rriit'iil'fr invtc- ii:iil ion, how e I\'\, it was foiIund thit ihe iinlit does
not plant seed intentionally, altlii-Ii, it indouibtedlyV dties sO acci-
dentally. The facts were rimi,_ilt out by Prof. V. I. MVlhetel'. 1 I".
seeds of several species -,' griisss and colliolli weeds ar1e taken ilinto
the nests. WMlieii the ioistIII'' is too ,ul,.i in the ile sIt -om, If tlhe
.c',l. sprout and thus ecolie UniUitlablh, for foWd. INilri' mcl cir-
cuimstances the antis carry out the s-proitetl steIds :111d1 deposit Litelii in
the immediate vicinity oif tit nest w11 her- iii;i V tiake 1 root alit : ''1".
Of coIurse, this can inot lie considered iillteltiolial plat iii,. of the
.t'.,l-. because the ants deall with the splrouhted r iin exactly la tI heyv
would \Vi tli al i substance that was l nsuitiiaaleh in their nestss; thait is,
they silnlpl carrly it Wtll and throw it aiAyV.

DiAM l.GE.
'eii, economic i' importance ,l' the .i, I&O idiil'l ant is duei to thlie fact
thliat it will not allow 'vg' tailtion to 1_i,,\1 in lthe imilediat v icinitv
of its nest and to its p-owerful -iliit which it uses on th1 e sli'h4 i
provocation. If thie colonies 1:i,,iI to be in i'i, l ilh s iu alfalfalfa,
coiu'lli, or 'ldtll. the 'area of loss lllVmay amouIti to coisideIl'ralle, :lil] tihet
Smile is true to a certain ihl,-i.',, (if ipastiur't adl i il ,i .1 ilads. More-
over. in fields which arte iMowVed the lmouilntis iinterlfere, wit tlie work
ing of the machine, and the ants aire likely to attack the horses.
Tl'here is soine ,i,',r'' of con'iistiol for thie lot'-s of tlie' laiid icleareli
1i" the ants. It will be noted that in a circle just outside of the area


that is cleared the plants grow with great luxuriance. Frequently
these plants become quite conspicuous in the field. T1is redoubled
gro th is due apparently to (lie fact that thc undcrg.',minid tunnels of
the ants loosen up the soil and have somewhat the effect of deep plow-
ilg. It is not likely that the increased growth under these condi-
tions ot,'-ets entirely the loss in the area where no plants are allowed
to grow, but it is sufficient to reduce the iilportance of the insect to
some extent. Mr. J. D). Mitcliell, who has made manv careful obser-
vations on this species, believes that the actual d;tnmage inflicted is
generally overestimated.
The -i in(g of the agricultural ant is at least as severe as that of a
bumblebee. It is speedily inflicted on any animal that approaches
the nest. Consequently, colonies located in the vicinity of houses
or on roads or paths frequently become decided nuisances. The best
local applications for stings are aqua ammonia or bicarbonate of
soda (Nlb:king soda). When fainting or dizziness occiir,. as is fre-
(luently the case, a few drops of ammonia taken internally will be
Natural enemies exert some repressive influence upon agricultural
ants. The most important enemy among the birds is the great-
tailed grackle ( /.//',.,. ,i's,,, /, r macrourus), commonly known as
the jackdaw. The following additional Texas birds are known to
prey upon species of Pig ioniynInlex, according to records in the
Bih-d ir.;Ll Survey: Upland plover (Bartrail ia lo,,ii',.,,i,), burrow-
iiig owl (S/', i,,, c,(tni#,flaria /y1,"/""t), Texas nighthawk (COtor-
d(ciuIes (1'11it;pen i8is te"r('nisix) .-cissor-tailed flycatcher (.JI[ ivora for-
filtata), kingb, ,ird (T,'r,,ii ",, tyrannfis), redbird (Clif,,,il; ,r,.;-
nali.s), and iuii, kingbird ( .,,,'.i//,,fii.). Tlie horned lizard
(Phl/jin sosw cor'n o itm) includes ;iLri',-iilura'l ants as a piart of it
ri,,iil:; diet.

As in the case of the cutting ant, the destruction of this species
can best be broiuglt about by the use of the solution of potassium
cyanid in water. Mr. J. D. Mitchell conducted experiments at Vic-
toria. Tex., which showed that this was a perfectly satisfactory
method. It is much cheaper and easier of application than in the
case of the .iittinjg ant on account of the fact that the undlergrolind
portion of the nest is much less extensive. A pinit of liquid is suf-
ficient for even a l:i,,rg, colony, tli(,gl sometimes a second :i)plica-
tion may be necessary.
Carbon l)isulp)hid is also a good v.ine,*ly and can be applied in
a very simple manner. All that is necessary is to pour about 2

TWO l nilri i Iviv ANI..

oldlIcvs inIto the ,ili'1i. g of the lie. The lj',iI"_' need nUt be clhoed.
.\A the g.i- i ntiuch heavier thian air. it -ink. into the innemuti
recesses anl kills all of lthe ant- in th( clons. Set tie tifo to ti
liquid i (f no ienetit. In fact, it i. likely t' v i.-en it- 4 6ien y. T1I,
poison aia he applied alt ;1! timn ,I f tI.. hi I ,-"', I1 Ii T*'- of tlie
nuilnIer o-f tI nts l re:it t r I i; .'tl l0 mi nl ThIIw h4-1 iuctiiin
if tlie colhmy ,Iciends 'l.I ni the killing of (Ih' qAeen lid i 14l i CHinAi i
in the niest at all times, except "hen tihe -arm.Iikn Il'l.IIi i "ndier
"ay, fhi a Nvery svhoi time in the uli 'i,
.oi cttilies l'aIri- r'l1.. or otliher air'nii l a .r i-ctd in the attem1 pt
to control this slpecio,.. They ;arc elically vppliu, l I \ -iily l ,l r-
in a li.iiihan fl fi l into the u,'Ai s. Main l of thie aints iart' killhil. hit
a lfir,.,, part of the brood is not aiil ,led. anl the ctolomv soon hminves
as nuelii olis a ever. In -o01t' n a-- w hurt thii muct- liO ii ha Ieen
followed persistently thl ants hae ;- movhle their net ; f fe feet away
and have Ihoemine reestablished perfectly in a slwrl tinie. FOIr 1hse
reasomin the use of arsenicals can not IM*e cin-idtcl I -at iwfactory.
Anoth ler ma1ethod sonietillw's follotw"d. which is of little plactital
use, is tranllii ig the ants in bottles-. If a larg I Ntth is lnicid in the
ground in the vicinity of thie nest within the neck i-lish with thlie Isur-
face the ants sooii lIein an exploration ani fall in-ide. The noise
IlivY make in the bottle attracts mainv other-. In this way in the
vicinity of a popilouh- colony a a hotthe II lie filled ill a short
time. 1'11 Iloji, lion to tlhis procedure is tha it only retIndues the
triniLth of the ,.,l',ny. The iinnmmaturle l.i_ -1 and tlie queen arelt, not
a l'teiltci. and the colony soon rr. i- iii,, it s former numbers.
Setc1ta/' of .1,/,;.tlt,,re.
WASHINGTON, I). C.. 'i'.11'ry 1 '. J91 .'.

l\'ii *. U\1, COPIES: of ths phlk itlon
S' r, t .t |'r,,,ur'd Irom th- SuL'P,11 lT1iN
OT O1 Pi Xt'NE!NT9, Ctovernmint P'rintln-
O0ix, Washington. D. C., at 5 ncnt4 per ropy

Il1 I f1f11 ilBll l11111 B1l ii|| 11111 1
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