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Zombie Fire Ants
May 12, 2009 9:05 PM   Subscribe

From deep within your worst nightmare (or the latest B movie): Zombie Fire Ants!
posted by Chocolate Pickle (25 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now if only they could find something to control kudzu.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:05 PM on May 12, 2009


I usually have no problem killing fire ants in Houston with granulated poisons. And, seeing as the only thing you have to worry about with fire ants is their mandibles, a headless fire ant is not so scary. Unless there are just millions of them and they crawl in your nasal passages and throat and suffocate you.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Call me when they can fly a space ship.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:11 PM on May 12, 2009


Call me when they can fly a space ship.

Headless zombie ants are controlled by telepathic queens who can make them self-assemble into any solid shape, including a hominid form capable of operating machinery.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:13 PM on May 12, 2009


I think Zombie Caterpillar video is a good companion to the Zombie Fire Ants. That's some shit right there.
posted by cashman at 9:14 PM on May 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


And then we release birds to eat the flies and snakes to eat the birds, right?
posted by Iron Rat at 9:14 PM on May 12, 2009


Because introducing a new predator to an ecosystem to control pests has never failed!
posted by Rinku at 9:15 PM on May 12, 2009


But what do we do about zombie kudzu?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:16 PM on May 12, 2009


Needs a whatcanpossiblygowrong? tag.
posted by empath at 9:52 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


god dammit cashman I WAS JUST ABOUT TO GO TO BED ARRRRRGH!!!!

o_O
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:02 PM on May 12, 2009


You'll sleep when the wasp larvae tells you to.
posted by cashman at 10:20 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just imagine if these were ZOMBIES! Ewwwwwwwwww.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:21 PM on May 12, 2009


Oh Great -
There have been reports of Phorid fly larvae have been discovered in the open wounds of patients in nursing homes and hospitals.
Several species have the common name of the coffin fly, because they breed in human corpses, and can even continue their life cycle within buried coffins.
posted by tellurian at 11:23 PM on May 12, 2009


What the article doesn't report is that (and I'm paraphrasing a detailed article in Nature), researchers have discovered different outcomes in Texas and in the fire ants' native South American homes.

In Texas, once phorid fly eggs have hatched and turned the ant into a zombie its activity levels actually rise dramatically even though the brain is supposedly dead. Researchers reported that the zombie ants typically tuned into ant talk radio and also - just within the space of 2 weeks - entered ant politics, typically on a hardline ticket. In some cases, researchers actually noted that zombie ants deposed queens and managed to implement radical supply side ant economics as well as organising large scale raids on supposedly hostile colonies at some distance away.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:47 AM on May 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh Great -

It's ok, tellurian. Phoridae is an entire family of flies. It includes the genus Pseudacteon, which consists of 100 or so individual species that are ant parasites. The 'coffin fly' is a name given to several other species which happen to belong to the same family as the ant-zombifiers.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:00 AM on May 13, 2009


There's an ongoing comic (Zombies of Mass Destruction), pretty dreadful in spite of the nasty ideas, that has introduced zombie camel spiders into the Iraq mess. Now that's a cheery before-bed image... They don't say where do the zombie camel spiders stand in the fundamentalism debate, though.
posted by Iosephus at 4:24 AM on May 13, 2009


It's still too good for the little hill-digging, stinging, swarming bastards. Zombify them and sell tickets to watch their corpses stagger about in a pit of fire for all I care.

*rubs blistered bites on swollen ankle ruefully*
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:22 AM on May 13, 2009


Chocolate Pickle: or the latest B movie

I'd love to see the re-re-branded SciFi Network do a meta-horror movie about these flies taking over the brains of their marketing executives, who then proceed to rename it SyFy.

Because really, that's the only remotely plausible explanation.
posted by mkultra at 7:30 AM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me get this straight. The maggot that hatches inside the ant commandeers the ant's body by riding around in its head like it was a fucking cockpit? How is this possibly real?
posted by orme at 8:06 AM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


As long as the flies don't attack anything else, this is great news. Imported fireants have been a disaster, wiping out our native ants. Expect the cotton farmers to complain, though, since fireants eat boll weevils.
posted by Ery at 8:35 AM on May 13, 2009


I'm reading this with blisters on my right wrist from the latest fire ant attack. They moved into my NC garden about 2 years ago and since then I've been attacked 5 times. I've gotten good at avoiding them but three days ago I was weeding when I saw ant activity. I stopped and checked my gloved hands which were dirt encrusted-- one little bugger must have been camouflaged because a few minutes later I felt the bite and then another before I could flick him off my wrist. I'm not 100% recovered from the last attack on this same wrist because the bites can itch for a month or more. I use the granular poison but I cannot possibly kill every ant in my garden. It has really become a problem. A biological weapon that sought them out would be better than a chemical weapon that I have to disperse, however, I won't rush into anything until I hear that it is 100% safe.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:42 AM on May 13, 2009


This is actually old-ish news. They've been working on putting this fly to work for at least 12 or 13 years.

I only mention this because it brings to mind one of my favorite dumb newspaper quotes ever. In one of the first articles I read about the fly in the Austin American-Statesman -- would have been in '96 or '97 -- they were trying to describe how small the thing is. The half-brilliant, half-hilarious, utterly unfolksy, straight-faced metric they came up with: "No bigger than Lincoln's nose on a penny."
posted by mudpuppie at 9:49 AM on May 13, 2009


Related, sorta: The Cordyceps fungus that infects ants (and other insects) and actually DOES mind-control them before killing them:
Here is a parasitic fungus that infects ants. The infected ant wanders away from its nest; the ant then reaches a leaf or another plant part. The fungus makes the ant to bite the leaf so powerfully, it hangs from the leaf until it eventually dies; and then (excited-by-gross-stuff six-year old emerging): the fungus grows an upside down stalk out of the dead ant’s head, releasing spores that fall to the ground. The spores are then picked up by ants that walk over them, causing them to wander away from the nest, bite other leaves… Ad nauseam.
Here's the freaky Planet Earth video where I first saw it. Interesting that the various strains of fungus each only infect one particular species.
posted by LordSludge at 10:26 AM on May 13, 2009


orme : The maggot that hatches inside the ant commandeers the ant's body by riding around in its head like it was a fucking cockpit? How is this possibly real?

It's easy. The trick is to anthropomorphize Mother Nature as a sentient being who, and let's be honest here, is best described as "a fucking psycho with a sick sense of humor"; Japanese Giant Hornets? Bot Flies? Bullet Ants? These are things that never, ever should exist in a universe that wants to keep its inhabitants sane.

It is shit like this makes me wonder if I found out that Cthulhu actually existed, whether I would just shrug and go "Yeah, You know, I kinda figured."
posted by quin at 3:18 PM on May 13, 2009


It's okay, MuffinMan, zombie fireants can't be any worse than Gov. Perry.
posted by zinfandel at 8:21 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


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