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The ants were found, individually, packed into mezuzah cases.

Customs officials at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport noticed something strange about a shipment of Mezuzos to China this past month.

Instead of kosher parchments with Shema Yisroel, they found inside live insects.


Each Mezuzah case had a secret compartment with a test tube containing a queen ant, generally the mother of all the other ants in an ant colony.

A total of 16 ants were found, reported Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection which was contacted by border control.

These were unique species of harvesting ants that are found specifically in the Negev region. Also known as harvester ants, they collect seeds or mushrooms which are stored in the nest in communal chambers called granaries.

“This story is unusual,” Dr. Gal Zagron, Director of the Pests and Pest Control Division at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, told the Hebrew-language Yedioth Aharonot newspaper.

“When customs contacted us, we thought a few ants got into the shipment. But this was a planned smuggle.”

She said it isn’t clear what was behind the smuggling, noting that past attempts to grow such ants in a laboratory have failed.

So what happened with the captured harvesting ants? They were released in the Negev, in their natural place.

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