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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Zombies: Brainless Wandering Ants?

I understand fire ants can be a huge problem. Here in Texas it's an on-going battle to kill the little buggers. We've developed all sorts of kill remedies to sprinkle, spray and call the Orkin man about to annihilate them but they just keep on living, propogating and speading. Sure, the pesticide of choice might work - but it's a momentary lapse because somehow they eventually develop some sort of immunity and bounce right back.

It's amazing how after one rain fall, on your level lawn overnight, sprout the mounds of the fiery little pests. Anyone familiar with fire ants know these are not your usual busy beaver worker ants. No, they exist to conquer your garden and to conquer your yard and they will try to kill you while they do it. Stings from fire ants can cause allergic reactions in folks sensitive to their bite and even if you're not particularly sensitive you can get a nasty welt that will itch until you apply copious amounts of Benedryl cream or camomile lotion. Aloe Vera can work wonders if you happen to have some chilled in the refrigerator. I keep a bottle next to the milk ready at all times.

Anyway my point - today I read Bill Hanna's piece in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about a new approach to offing the ants and saving our yards and our skin. Now this new remedy isn't going to kill all of the ants off, no rather it might be an effective population control device. Then maybe we can hit them with some sort of Amdro Nuke and then kill them all. What the brainy scientists have discovered is that the tiny phorid fly, (it must be really small) native to a region of South America come equipped with pathogens that attack fire ants to keep their population and movements under control. You see, the tiny little flies have come up with an effective method, now we're humbly learning from their achievements. Good on the little phorid flies.

Apparently they are so small they can "dive-bomb" the fire ants, laying eggs within the ant. The maggots that hatch have a hankering for some real brain food, and since fish isn't an option they head for the ant's ... head. The tiny maggots proceed to eat away at the ant's tiny brain. As anyone might imagine if you had something noshing on your brain, the ants begin to exhibit changes in their activities. Instead of staying within rank and grouping together they start roaming around on their own. They exhibit strange zombie-like behavior. Because basically, they are zombies.

The newly "zombied" ants mill aimlessly until their heads pops off. Yep, right off and the new fly emerges ready to lay eggs in a short time in more of the ants that have not been already infected. Sounds really gruesome and I certainly hope none of the Muslim terrorist groups ever hear of this because, well I just don't want anything eating what's left of my brain. Nor my head popping off, that wouldn't set well either.
(No not zombies, just our annual Halloween party at my sister's.)

So that's it for interesting things I read today in my spare moments between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
"Zombie" the brilliant Cranberries

1 comment:

  1. jerseyirish9:41 AM

    Sunny, Know what your talking about the mounds they make. Really haven't had much of a problem with them. My son when he see's the mounds he pours gasoline over the mounds and sets it on fire, don't know how good it is for the ground but it seems to work. We had a fly problem last year couldn't get the damn things out of the house must have nested during the winter. Bought a bunch of hanging fly traps and that finally did the trick. Only problem one of my kitty's knocked one down and was covered with dead flies and glue, took days of cutting and washing his fur to get it all off!