The presence of a hitherto unidentified stinging ant has caused fear in Matara town with several victims taking medical treatment.
The large reddish or brown ants have stung several people causing pain and swelling.
Matara General Hospital Director Dr. Savindi Samarakoon said a number of victims had been given tetanus injections and pain killers after being stung by these ants. Some victims are also reported to be taking ayurvedic treatment.
As precautions, residents are reported to be cutting off branches, applying kerosene or diesel around their houses.
One resident said the sting was severely painful and the swelling lasted three to four days.
Prof. Rohan Samaranayaka of the Ruhunu University and Prof. Sriyani Dias of the Kelaniya University are among those investigating how and from where these ants came to Matara town.