You ever thought it would be really cool to see for-real zombies?
Do you also have a hate-hate relationship with fire ants?
Well, if you answered “yes” to both of questions, today is your lucky day!!!! (Someone will need to keep Dragon Lady from jumping for joy, so she doesn’t pull something.)
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.
Okay, I’m not into killing living things. That is why I buy my dead meat at the store; however, that would be so creepily cool to watch.
So how does this form of “population control” happen? Phorid flies. (Yeah, I don’t know what they are, either.)
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.
So far, four phorid species have been introduced in Texas .
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.
“At some point, the ant gets up and starts wandering,” said Rob Plowes, a research associate at UT.
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.
Plowes said fire ants are “very aware” of these tiny flies, and it only takes a few to cause the ants to modify their behavior.
“Just one or two flies can control movement or above-ground activity,” Plowes said. “It’s kind of like a medieval activity where you’re putting a castle under siege.”
(H/T: McClatchy via Yahoo)
Scientists are sick, twisted, crazy-geniuses.
Could you just imagine the “B” movies that could made with this nugget of information?