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Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies

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avatar Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 14, 2009 10:58PM
The problem:
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7487.html
Red Imported Fire Ant
Although the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) is common in 12 southern states, it is new to California and has recently been found infesting numerous residential and commercial areas in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and to a lesser extent, San Diego counties. The spread of these ants has largely been a result of the movement of infested soil to uninfested areas.......(cut)
The red imported fire ant’s sting is a serious concern to people and their pets. Venom injected into the skin causes a burning sensation (hence the name “fire ant”). Both southern fire ants and red imported fire ants become very agitated when their nests are disturbed, but red imported fire ants are much more aggressive and can quickly climb onto the object or person causing the disturbance and begin stinging. A single red imported fire ant can bite and sting its victim repeatedly. Symptoms start as a burning and itching sensation followed by the formation of a white pustule, which takes several weeks to disappear. The pustules can become infected if not kept clean and may leave permanent scarring. (cut)

The solution?
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/05/13/national/a062256D48.DTL

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
(05-13) 06:42 PDT Fort Worth, Texas (AP) --
Researchers in Texas are trying an unusual approach to combat fire ants — deploying parasitic flies that turn the pesky and economically costly insects into zombies whose heads fall off.
The biting, territorial fire ants cost the Texas economy about $1 billion annually by damaging electrical equipment, according to a Texas A&M study. They can also threaten young calves.
But now the researchers are trying a tiny phorid fly, native to a region of South America where the fire ants originated. Researchers have learned that fire ants in their home region are
kept under control by as many as 23 phorid species. The flies lay eggs on the fire ants, and the eggs hatch into maggots inside the ant and eat away at the pest's tiny brain.
The ant will get up and wander for about two weeks while the maggot feeds, said Rob Plowes, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin.
"There is no brain left in the ant, and the ant just starts wandering aimlessly," he said.
About a month after the egg is laid, the ant's head falls off — and a new fly emerges ready to attack another fire ant. (cut)

http://fireant.tamu.edu/news/phorid_zombie.cfm
New phorid fly species turns red imported fire ants into 'zombies'
May 11, 2009 Writer(s): Robert Burns, 903-834-6191,rd-burns@tamu.edu
OVERTON –
On April 29, on the grounds of the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton in East Texas, Dr. Scott Ludwig released fire ants infected with a new type of phorid fly, a minuscule parasite that only preys on red imported fire ants. The infected ants will soon exhibit some very bizarre behavior, he said.
"First they become zombies, their movements under the control of the parasite. Then their heads fall off and the parasite emerges," said Ludwig, , AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist.
Previously released phorid flies only preyed on ants in disturbed mounds. In contrast, the species, Pseudacteon obtusus, that Ludwig released in April is attracted to foraging red imported fire ants and not disturbed mounds. Which is even better, he said, as attacks of ants are not dependent upon the mounds being disturbed.
The "zombified" fire ant is made to wander about 55 yards away from the mound to die.
"The parasite does this so it can complete development without being detected and attacked by the fire ant colony," Ludwig said. "By making their hosts wander away, the parasite is insuring its survival."
(cut)



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 15, 2009 05:43PM
Does bringing in another invasive species to control an invasive species ever work?

Seems to me that there have been a number of failures of this type of activity, leading to
a new invasive species causing more issues than it solves.

These "solutions" always seem to be brilliant before they actually try them.
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 15, 2009 05:57PM
Quote
RobE
Does bringing in another invasive species to control an invasive species ever work?

Seems to me that there have been a number of failures of this type of activity, leading to
a new invasive species causing more issues than it solves.

These "solutions" always seem to be brilliant before they actually try them.

I saw several mongooses on my last trip to Hawaii. They were brought in to attempt to control the rat population. Worked pretty well, but they also decimated the indigenous bird population.
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 15, 2009 06:51PM
Good points. Each time there is a screw up with the ecosystem, someone gets to publish some papers and we learn a little more. Perhaps we will get it right eventually.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 15, 2009 06:54PM
Quote
Frank Furter
Perhaps we will get it right eventually.

Like this?
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 15, 2009 07:30PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
Frank Furter
Perhaps we will get it right eventually.

Like this?

The dark view!
I have heard reviews of this book but have not read it myself. Isn't it more about the collapse of infrastructure than biological catastrophe (although the end of human life, essential for the plot, was due to some unspecified bio-event, maybe the flu.). The review that I recall detailed how , for example, the New York subway system, which requires constant pumping of water. could quickly deteriorate and fill with water which would destabilize the skyscrapers in a remarkably short time.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Pertinent to this discussion May 22 is International Bio-diversity Day

http://www.cbd.int/idb/2009/

The International Day for Biological Diversity
22 May 2009
Invasive Alien Species
The theme for the International Day on Biological Diversity in 2009 is invasive alien species (IAS) - one
of the greatest threats to biodiversity, and to the ecological and economic well-being of society and the planet.
Designation of IDB 2009 on the theme of invasive alien species provides Parties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) and those dealing with IAS, opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and increase practical action to tackle the problem. (cut)



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/15/2009 08:24PM by Frank Furter.
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 15, 2009 07:15PM
There is a classic screw up in Montana related to Flathead Lake. In the 70's to increase (already high) cutthroat trout levels, a shrimp was introduced. The shrimp were good food for the Cuts but due to the depth of the lake the shrimp would descend during the day and rise at night (thus avoiding the daytime feeding cutthroat trout) Therefore, the Cuts did not benefit as much as the lake trout which feed at deeper depths. In addition the shrimp ate the water plankton that the young Cuts needed. Eventually the young survival dropped off. The Lake trout (a preditor of the Cutthroat Trout) flourished, providing additional pressure on the Cutthroat population. Cutthoat populations have collapsed in Flathead Lake.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 16, 2009 10:56AM
I wonder how well Lake Davis purge worked to get rid of pike. Anyway, off-topic to be sure. Looking up more Half Dome photos...
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 16, 2009 03:26PM
Quote
Vince
I wonder how well Lake Davis purge worked to get rid of pike. Anyway, off-topic to be sure. Looking up more Half Dome photos...

Wasn't that a case where they're trying to rid themselves of an invasive species (northern pike) just because it's negatively affecting popular fishing of a non-native planted species (rainbow trout)?
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 16, 2009 03:56PM
Isn't Lake Davis a planted lake?
avatar Re: Brain Maggots Turn Imported Ants into "Good" Zombies
May 16, 2009 11:56PM
Quote
Vince
Isn't Lake Davis a planted lake?

Yep. Stocked with rainbow trout by California Fish & Game. In addition, it's an artificial lake and I don't believe there were any native trout runs on Grizzly Creek.
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