Way Cool Science!

I live in the South and one of our biggest probs is that of fire ants…the f*ckers are everywhere.  Most ant poison just makes them move a few feet away and kills very few.  There has got to be a way to control the little bastards.

But wait!  There is good news on the horizon!

It sounds like something out of science fiction: zombie fire ants. But it’s all too real.

Fire ants wander aimlessly away from the mound.

Eventually their heads fall off, and they die.

The tool is the tiny phorid fly, native to a region of South America where the fire ants in Texas originated. Researchers have learned that there are as many as 23 phorid species along with pathogens that attack fire ants to keep their population and movements under control.

The flies “dive-bomb” the fire ants and lay eggs. The maggot that hatches inside the ant eats away at the brain, and the ant starts exhibiting what some might say is zombie-like behavior.

The maggot eventually migrates into the ant’s head, but Plowes said he “wouldn’t use the word ‘control’ to describe what is happening. There is no brain left in the ant, and the ant just starts wandering aimlessly. This wandering stage goes on for about two weeks.”

About a month after the egg is laid, the ant’s head falls off and the fly emerges ready to attack any foraging ants away from the mound and lay eggs.

The flies, which are USDA -approved, do not attack native ants or species and have been introduced in other Gulf Coast states, Plowes said. Despite initial concerns, farmers and ranchers have been willing to let researchers use their property to establish colonies. At the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth in March, Plowes said they found plenty of volunteers.

I say bring it on!  If anyone has ever been biten by these ants knows that it is very uncomfortable and something has to be done.  They destroy a lot of wildlife and cause a lot of damage.  Kill the f*ckers!

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2 thoughts on “Way Cool Science!

  1. Cool! I had never heard of such a thing, and like you said, fire ants are a big problem around here. You’ve also reminded me that I need to buy some more ant poison. Until we can get our hands on those flies, I suppose it will have to do.

    1. Hi vjack and thanx for the return visit……I saw that article and it made me think the same thing…I have been fightin’ the little buggers all year….I also heard about another ant that kills them but the problem with them is they like electrical equipment and build their nests in panel boxes, radios tvs and the like…..I guess there is a trade off and it makes me wonder what the trade off will be with the flies.

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