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Texas Makes Zombie Fire Ants

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-could-go-wrong dept.

Biotech 398

eldavojohn writes "What do you do when a foreign species has been introduced to your land from another continent? Bring over the natural predator from the other continent. Scientists in Texas have introduced four kinds of phorid flies from South America to fight fire ants. These USDA approved flies dive bomb ants and lay an egg inside the ant. The maggot hatches and eats away juicy tender delicious ant brain until the ant is nothing more than a zombie that wanders around for two weeks before the head falls off and the ant dies. A couple of these flies will cause the ants to modify their behavior and this will be a very slow acting solution to curb the $1 billion in damage these ants do to Texas cattle ranches and — oddly enough — electrical equipment like circuit breakers. You may remember zombifying parasites hitting insects like cockroaches."

cancel ×

398 comments

Anonymous Coward (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946867)

I for one welcome our new Zombie Fire Ant overlords.

Re:Anonymous Coward (5, Funny)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947091)

I for one welcome our new Zombie Fire Ant overlords.

Somebody with an ant farm moderated you a Troll.

Re:Anonymous Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947193)

came for this. Thanks AC

Re:Anonymous Coward (5, Funny)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947359)

I don't know if zombie ants can be overlords. They lack brains.

Just like... (5, Funny)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947391)

Just like our current human overlords, then.

Eh. (5, Funny)

James Skarzinskas (518966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946877)

You call this a zombie apocalypse? This ain't nothing compared to the zombie attack of 57.

Re:Eh. (5, Funny)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947051)

I think they've already gotten to the politicians first. The brain dead are sometimes hard to tell apart from normal people.

Re:Eh. (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947353)

Those that keep getting reelected seem smart enough.

It's the "normal people" I worry about.

Many politicians just pretend to be stupid because in many cases voters prefer voting for people who are like them (i.e. stupid).

In some places voters might prefer voting for people who are smarter. But in others, appearing to be smart seems to lose you votes.

I for one (-1, Redundant)

Godman (767682) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946883)

Welcome our zombie ant overlords.

Re:I for one (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947005)

I for one don't welcome your tired unfunny cliche use.

I want some zombie making flies (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946885)

I could let them go wild on my wife. Maybe she might do the dishes for once

Re:I want some zombie making flies (3, Funny)

Rip Dick (1207150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947067)

I'll go wild on your wife...

Re:I want some zombie making flies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947251)

    Dude, be careful there. She's probably 4'9", 350 lbs, and has a body even a Mac truck wouldn't want to hit.

Misleading Headline (5, Funny)

Powercntrl (458442) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946891)

My first thought was "Why does Texas need a zombie to terminate the employment of ants, and how did they get a job in the first place?"

Then I realized, this is Texas, afterall.

What stupidity. (1, Flamebait)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946899)

Introducing foreign species, even to battle other foreign species /NEVER WORKS/.

Way to fuck over the native ants, Texas. Not to mention any other unpredictable side-effects, which, when talking about introduced species, are /ALWAYS BAD/.

Re:What stupidity. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946933)

Way to fuck over the native ants, Texas. Not to mention any other unpredictable side-effects, which, when talking about introduced species, are /ALWAYS BAD/.

Too true.

Exhibit A: American colonials

Re:What stupidity. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946941)

Idk we pretty much pwned the fucking native americans.

Re:What stupidity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946955)

BAM!

Re:What stupidity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947253)

Ok well, sometimes it's an improvement.

Re:What stupidity. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946957)

Yep, you may have heard of the cane toads we have here in Australia. They were introduced to kill off cane beetles - well, there's been more than a few side effects of that particular decision.

Of course, you've just introduced a bug that drills itself into animals' brains and eats them, without killing the animal itself till some time later. How could that possibly go wrong?

Re:What stupidity. (1, Funny)

Jimmy_B (129296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947015)

Not animals. Insects. The distinction does matter.

Re:What stupidity. (4, Insightful)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947043)

Last time I checked, insects weren't plants.

Re:What stupidity. (5, Informative)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947079)

You said:

Not animals. Insects. The distinction does matter.

Once again I will quote Wikipedia:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Mandibulata
Class: Insecta

and:

Insects are the most diverse group of animals on the planet.

Re:What stupidity. (4, Informative)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947107)

People are animals too, as are insects and worms and fish and dogs and frogs.

Being a member of Animalia usually means you're an animal, but the common term animal is not universally applied to Parazoa/Porifera(sponges) even though sponges are technically part of the "Animal kingdom".

Re:What stupidity. (5, Funny)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947129)

Yeah. Some of them are called Bob.

Re:What stupidity. (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947451)

And several have been elected to Congress.

Re:What stupidity. (2, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947245)

People are animals too, as are insects and worms and fish and dogs and frogs.

Being a member of Animalia usually means you're an animal, but the common term animal is not universally applied to Parazoa/Porifera(sponges) even though sponges are technically part of the "Animal kingdom".

I think in general though, it would be easier to control mammals (like us humans) and amphibians rather than insects which tend to bread much more vociferously.

I think that since this is a science topic and a "nerd" Web site that the use of the term "animal" should be used in its more scientific (rather than colloquial) meaning.

Re:What stupidity. (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947337)

I think in general though, it would be easier to control mammals (like us humans) and amphibians rather than insects which tend to bread much more vociferously.

I don't know. Human population is pretty hard to control.

Re:What stupidity. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947313)

I am a sponge, you insensitive clod!

Re:What stupidity. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947157)

I'm curious, did you fail your 6th grade science class?

Re:What stupidity. (0, Troll)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946989)

...accidentally introduced into the United States due to a South American cargo ship coming to an Alabama port in 1918, but now infests the majority of the Southern and Southwestern United States.

Then we can stop introducing more foreign species from South America by stopping all shipping of bananas, cocoa, and coffee. Or better yet, stop shipping of any product which crosses any large natural border such as oceans.

Re:What stupidity. (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947021)

The article talks specifically about deliberately introducing a species into the wild to become part of the ecosystem. Your points of inter-continental travel are unfortunately relevant to the un-deliberate introduction of foreign species into the wild.

Re:What stupidity. (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947259)

With the advent of inter-continental shipping comes the risk of introducing new species to foreign lands. The use of pesticides has been shown to have very negative long term effects; so the only method left to address the importation of foreign insects is using biological agents. Should we instead try to create a man-made biological vector to remove the fire-ants? How much less risky is that proposal?

No risk-free solution exists to stop future infestations except cessation of all inter-continental shipping. The OP raises the possibility of a risk from using this solution. What other alternatives does he suggest?

Re:What stupidity. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947075)

Don't worry, (the current popular variety of) bananas and arabica are both probably doomed anyway. They were also both introduced to South America.

Re:What stupidity. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947109)

Can we stop importing mexicans too?

Re:What stupidity. (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947209)

I, for one, fear the eventual introduction of the Taiwanese semiconductor beetle. Not only do its feeding tunnels encourage premature ion migration, it carries the fungus that causes bit rot.

Re:What stupidity. (5, Informative)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946997)

Your quote:

Introducing foreign species, even to battle other foreign species /NEVER WORKS/.

I'm not sure about never but there are often unforeseen consequences. Even Looney Toons had a classic cartoon on this.

In some cases, biological pest control can have unforeseen negative results that could outweigh all benefits. For example, when the mongoose was introduced to Hawaii in order to control the rat population, it preyed on the endemic birds of Hawaii, especially their eggs, more often than it ate the rats.

Cane toads (Bufo marinus) were introduced to Australia in the 1930s in a failed attempt to control the cane beetle, a pest of sugar cane crops. 102 toads were obtained from Hawaii and bred in captivity to increase their numbers until they were released into the sugar cane fields of the tropic north in 1935. It was later discovered that the toads can't jump very high so they did not eat the cane beetles which stayed up on the upper stalks of the cane plants. The toads soon became very numerous and out-competed native species and became very harmful to the Australian environment, including being very toxic to would-be predators such as native snakes.

- Ref: [wikipedia.org]

Re:What stupidity. (4, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947037)

Perhaps you're the stupid one. Lets review the first sentence in TFS...

What do you do when a foreign species has been introduced to your land from another continent?

They aren't native and unfortunately in Texas there aren't any natural predators to the fire ant (such as the ant eater).

Re:What stupidity. (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947185)

There is the problem of these ants adapting to the newly introduced species, and even worse, perhaps developing genetic defenses against them over generations. From the article:

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.

And there is of course, the problem of migration and in controlling the newly found species if it gets out of control. From the article:

Researchers began introducing phorid species in Texas in 1999. The first species has traveled all the way from Central and South Texas to the Oklahoma border.

And its not even known for sure if this strategy will work. Again from the article:

Determining whether the phorid flies will work in Texas will take time, perhaps as long as a decade.

It's all a vast experiment that could possibly go wrong. The Law of Unintended Consequences could very well be applied here.

Re:What stupidity. (4, Informative)

nametaken (610866) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947271)

I think he was saying that there must also be ants that are native to Texas and that these flies will damage their populations, in addition to the foreign fire ant populations.

Re:What stupidity. (1)

DesertJazz (656328) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947045)

While I'm also sure that this will end in disaster, I must confess if there is anything that can be done about the ants down here I would be incredibly grateful. The electrical equipment doesn't surprise me one bit, they go for anything, and I've regularly seen these wonderful little creatures around outlets and such.

Re:What stupidity. (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947247)

Apparently the ants are actively attracted to electrical equipment, people seem to think that they sense the magnetic fields(which is pretty cool; but not unheard of, there are a bunch of animals that are known to do so).

Unfortunately, I learned this fascinating fact after my visit to Texas. I was particularly saddened to discover that my girlfriend had been previously aware of it; but had decided to head off my enthusiasm for dubiously sensible electricity experiments by not telling me at the time. :(

Re:What stupidity. (5, Interesting)

frieko (855745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947069)

What? As opposed to safe pest control methods like atrazine and DDT? When done by idiots (cane beetle) biological control can be disastrous. But when done carefully it's safe and effective. From Wikipedia:

An example of an invasive species is the alligator weed. [...] The alligator weed flea beetle and two other biological controls were released in Florida. Because of their success, Florida banned the use of herbicides to control alligator weed three years after the controls were introduced.

Re:What stupidity. (5, Insightful)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947103)

The flies, which are USDA -approved, do not attack native ants or species and have been introduced in other Gulf Coast states, Plowes said.

If only Slashdot provided some way to get more details, so you could read more about the plan instead of just assuming they did no kind of study and are totally winging it with no thought or planning whatsoever.

Re:What stupidity. (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947255)

I'm not sure, there might be unforeseen consequences if such a mechanism were provided...

The CSIRO would disagree with you (5, Informative)

adamkennedy (121032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947125)

After a few horrendous early bad attempts (Cane Toads for example) Australia's CSIRO (the government's research arm) has gotten very very good [csiro.au] at importing biological controls to deal with other invasive species. They now have methodologies in place that let them do so on a regular basis.

Examples include the moth that was used to eradicate Prickly Pear [sciencedirect.com] , the introducing of African dung beetles to curb an explosion in flies due to agriculture, and the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus [wikipedia.org] have all been very successful.

And they've introduced no less than 5 different species (3 weevils, 2 flies and a moth) to successfully control Onopordum Thistles [csiro.au] (although the program is ongoing).

I think the rule of thumb here is that you don't solve your invasive species problems by just wandering over to their source country, picking up the first highly visible superpredator that you find, and bringing it back. (Cane Toads, Mongooses, Wolves, etc)

Re:The CSIRO would disagree with you (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947285)

Damn I wish I had mod points

Re:The CSIRO would disagree with you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947443)

Yes, I'm sure the aborigines are delighted at the introduction of the British prisoners, British troops, and British taxes to control the dogs, rabbits, brown rats, and VD that the first Colonists brought with them. And frankly, given the devastation brought by the cane toads and the rabbits, I shudder to think what personal sexual favors the next wave of foreign organisms would have to provide to make up for it.

Re:What stupidity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947133)

Australia. Prickly pear vs cactoblastis beetle. Total success.

Re:What stupidity. (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947155)

The flies, which are USDA -approved, do not attack native ants or species and have been introduced in other Gulf Coast states, Plowes said.

Not that you can put 100% confidence in the statement, but it seems they've done testing and found these flies ignore native species, which would mean it may, in fact, work. I doubt the scientists involved in this project are oblivious of previous failed attempts at messing with food chains.

Re:What stupidity. (0)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947179)

Surprisingly enough, I was wondering, last week, what could happen with ants that would be apocalyptic and this is number two apocalypse and it leads to number one.
This is perhaps the stupidest thing that has ever been done. I can only think of one more immediate end to human life and that would be to introduce a virus that kills bees.
This makes the introduction of species in Australia look like child's play.
I can only hope that they are as incompetent as they are insane, and it fails to work.

Re:What stupidity. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947199)

C'mon, man, try to understand where they were coming from. It was either "introduce foreign zombie enslaver flies" or "cross the streams"; a total no-win decision...

Re:What stupidity. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947227)

native ants

"What do you do when a foreign species has been introduced to your land from another continent?

Re:What stupidity. (1)

athlon02 (201713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947303)

I grew up in Texas... I dunno about other states, but this isn't the first time some goofballs in the state thought messing with the ecosystem by introducing outside life was a good idea. They put "elephant ear" plants in the water in San Marcos and the things took over.

Maybe Bill Engvall is right and we do need signs on these people... and a place to where we can export them :-)

Re:What stupidity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947449)

The lizard population will enjoy eating these flies, assuming their heads don't fall off in process.

What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946905)

Reminds me of cane toads.

And they dealt with the cane toads by importing .. (3, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947207)

Reminds me of cane toads.

I understand that there was an additional import used to deal with Cane Toads that isn't in the wiki article. As I heard it:

There was a problem with cattle dung. The native dung beetles didn't dispose of it. So each cow flop would lie around for years, killing off a circle of grass several feet across. Cows make a LOT of flops, so this was a serious problem

So they imported dung beetles that WOULD break up and bury cow flops. But the Cane Toad would eat them, so they didn't take hold.

Finally they found a BIG dung beetle that would use cow flops. The cane toads would eat this one, too. But it was a big hardy bug. So it would dig its way out of the toad. Problem (and toad) solved. B-)

Unfortunately there apparently aren't enough cow flops to produce a big enough population of these booby-trap-beetles to wipe out the cane toads. So the toads are still a problem.

I tell you what (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946913)

This is what those environmentalists should be doing. Using nature against nature in ways that can help man.

---Hank Hill of Arlen, TX

Obilgatory Simpsons (5, Funny)

dsginter (104154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946921)

Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?

Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.

Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?

Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!

Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

Re:Obilgatory Simpsons (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946991)

When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, and subject to cruel and fierce storms.
-William Bradford

I warned about this. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946923)

First you all laughed at me. But Now everyone will remember that I was the lone voice warning against the Italian menace using ants to attack our wives, children, churches, base-ball parks and hot dogs. OUR HOT DOGS! Did we defeat the Godless soviet menace only to be bamboozled by a bunch of Italian ant-men? Now I'm not one to be spiteful. I love America and the American people. And I want to say that I love the Italian people, too. Most Italians are a good-hearted God-fearing people who are grateful for the freedoms We have given them. Italy has a rich cultural and historic tradition and a beautiful and expressive language, Mexican. But some militant Italians, poisoned by blind hatred for America and Americans and everything that is GOOD, are now trying to attack, subvert, and sap our Nation with their zombie ants. It is not too late America. We must unite as a nation and pray for the sprit of greatness that allowed us to defeat the Blacks and the Mexicans, and defend our freedoms, even if it means that we have to sacrifice some freedom to defend our freedom to be free from the Italian ant terror. GOD BLESS AMERICA and good NIGHT!

Oh yeah..great idea except when things go wrong... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946925)

Like this http://www.austmus.gov.au/factsheets/canetoad.htm

Cane toads !!!!

This little bastards will eat anything they can physically get in their mouths!

A complete disaster.

This is ridiculous (5, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946927)

Zombies are never the answer. Oh wait. Zombie ant overlords? That's totally different.

The Selfish Gene (3, Informative)

crocodill (668896) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946931)

Richard Dawkins talks about ants doing this kind of stuff in his book: The Selfish Gene.

It's an awesome book to read if you want to learn more about the world you're living in and also reasoning behind a lot of human behaviour.

Re:The Selfish Gene (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947061)

Posting on Slashdot aint gunna get you chicks. Explain that!

Great Idea! (1, Redundant)

alienunknown (1279178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946959)

It worked great for us with the introduction of cane toads. [wikipedia.org]

I'm sure there will be no unforeseen changes to the local ecosystems. Why, what could possibly go wrong?

Re:Great Idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947085)

Mod up parent... very informative. At least the Cane Toads can be made into purses [wikipedia.org] though!

Now... what to do with phorid flies?

Re:Great Idea! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947293)

Tiny purses? An excellent product for times of economic downturn...

Silver bullet impact (5, Funny)

HamburglerJones (1539661) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946969)

"These are very slow acting," Plowes said. "It's more like a cumulative impact measured across a time frame of years. It's not an immediate silver bullet impact."

Well of course there's no silver bullet impact for zombie fire ants, but if we need to get rid of some werewolf fire ants, the silver bullets might do the trick!

this is like open source (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946975)

except for rms lays one of his greasy turds in the heads of the open source victim who becomes a zombie as they endlessly moan on about open source even though there is no brain activity.

Uh, memo to tthe USDA . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946993)

Has this EVER worked as planned? Even once? Or hasn't there always been some unforseen result?

Just askin'.

Re:Uh, memo to tthe USDA . . . (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947165)

Yes, biocontrol [wikipedia.org] has worked [wikipedia.org] a few times [wikipedia.org] before. [wikipedia.org]

Obviously, the screw-up results get more press than when an introduced species does work.

-Peter Petridish

I can see it now... (3, Funny)

tech_fixer (1541657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27946999)

Coming this summer to a theatre near you:
Texas Zombie Ant Chainsaw Massacre!

How's that for a mashup?

Re:I can see it now... (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947417)

Yeah, I was gonna say this headline seemed to be missing a couple words. :)

uh oh (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947035)

When are the Russians going to get around to linking all these zombies into a botnet? Or would that be a bugnet?

Re:uh oh (1)

nrgy (835451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947141)

If so we just track these Russian bot nets with a bugtracker.

Re:uh oh (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947145)

It would never work. It's full of bugs.

Stock Tip... (3, Interesting)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947115)

Whatever company that makes RAID (bug spray, not disk stuff)...

BUY!

The product will be needed soon, and in great quantities.

Porky Pig tried this once. (5, Funny)

Loualbano2 (98133) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947121)

Porky Pig tried this once in an old Bug Bunny cartoon.

He had a mouse problem, so he bought a cat.

When Porky Pig went to bed, the cat invited all of his friends over and they got wasted played the piano loudly and sang drinking songs. One of the cats had a lampshade on his head and everything.

When Porky Pig got fed up with this, he bought a dog. How he found a place in the 50's or 60's that sold dogs in the middle of the night is anyone's guess. He let the dog loose in the house and waited.

The cats got the dog drunk and he was singing with them in about 30 seconds.

So obviously these flies are eventually going to get drunk and sing, which is pretty cool, making this plan sweet.

Re:Porky Pig tried this once. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947261)

This should be modded informative. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Re:Porky Pig tried this once. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947339)

It's been several decades since that occurred and I haven't heard of any other anthropomorphic pigs annoyed with a bunch of drunken cats in his house, accompanied by a drunken dog. It seems like people must remember that part of our history rather well.

Re:Porky Pig tried this once. (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947367)

Are you sure that wasn't Fritz the Cat?

Re:Porky Pig tried this once. (1)

Loualbano2 (98133) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947439)

I hate to reply to myself, but I found the actual cartoon on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KnRaNw1Un8 [youtube.com]

It turns out to be from 1945.

Re:Porky Pig tried this once. (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947457)

Maybe you're thinking of this episode [imdb.com] . A dime to retire.

Where Porky finds a motel that charges 10c a night. Alas Daffy the motel manager releases a mouse and charges $50 to release a cat. Then $50 for a dog and so on untill Daffy brings the mouse back to get rid of the elephant.

Can't find the episode on youtube but saw it a few months ago and it was still hilarious.

"The flies do not attack native ants..." (5, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947143)

When I got to New Mexico, I couldn't even look at huevos rancheros. Within a year, they had become a breakfast favorite.

The phorids will have whole generations to refine their taste.

No need (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947213)

In Texas, fire ants are bountiful. There will be no need to attack other ants...

Of course that's now, it will be interesting to see what happens when the fire ant population starts dwindling. But basically these will probably just keep it in more of a natural check.

Re:No need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947399)

In New Mexico, breakfast was bountiful...

Seriously, I am more concerned that the phorids may mutate into something with broader appetites. I admit I do not understand the mechanism that causes them to prey only on fire ants. It may be so ingrained in them that there is no chance that they'll ever attack anything else.

Aust fire ant problem (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947217)

We have had a fire ant problem here in Queensland, Australia for a few years now. It has been a big problem and quite a talking point for the Qld government (www.dpi.qld.gov.au/fireants/). But there has never been a suggestion to introduce a natural predator. I'm curious as to why they haven't. Possibly because the last time they tried using a natural predator; the cane toad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cane_toad)it backfired badly and we are now over run by the little buggers.

Ex-wife (4, Funny)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947219)

These ... flies dive bomb ants and lay an egg inside the ant. The maggot hatches and eats away juicy tender delicious ant brain until the ant is nothing more than a zombie that wanders around for two weeks before the head falls off and the ant dies.

Can I get something like this for my ex-wife?

there was an old lady who (1)

societyofrobots (1396043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947225)

And what if that fly starts killing off other native species important to the ecosystem? Import more species!

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
I dunno why she swallowed that fly,
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly -
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd, to swallow a bird!
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly -
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat.
Imagine that, she swallowed a cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die

and you know that goes . . .

So many... (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947233)

Let's summarize:
  • Scientists are introducing a brain-consuming maggot into Texas that turns fire ants into zombies.
  • After their brains are consumed, the fire ants wander aimlessly for two weeks, then die.
  • Flies emerge from the dead ants, hungry for more ants.

There are just so many bad science fiction plotlines here...and in all of them, we end up mining underground sugar caves for Nazgulesque maggots astride their fearsome zombie fire ants. In a few, we end up being tortured by the fire ants' Neo, who hunts the Evil Humans who brought the maggots among them...

Sucker! (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947269)

"Bring over the natural predator from the other continent."

We are the disease... we are the cure... we are the disease... we are the cure...

SUCKER!

Re:Sucker! (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947373)

You said:

We are the disease... we are the cure... we are the disease... we are the cure...

From Night of the Living Dead: [script-o-rama.com]

They're us.
We're them, and they're us.

Alternatives? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947291)

There are a lot of cases where this kind of approach went terribly wrong, but, what are the alternatives to solve the fire ant problem, without causing far more problems?

Fire Ant's Damage (1)

engineerofsorts (692517) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947297)

I believe the imported fire ants have one-neuron brains that work as follows: Am I in contact with something? If yes, bite it. In reality the fire ants have displaced native ant species, which are the primary diets of some much more delightful creatures, the horned lizards. Perhaps the only chance the horned lizards have are the phorid flies to keep the fire ants sufficiently controlled that native ants can make a sufficient comeback to save the horny toads.

Hulu ad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27947301)

Quick, tell the aliens from the Hulu ad that ant's brains make better soup!

San Antonio (2, Interesting)

lauless (1001669) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947355)

This is the first year I have not seen any fire ants. It used to be a constant battle, and the bites hurt. A year or two ago the crazy ants showed up (Paratrechina longicornis). They are now everywhere and have evicted the fire ants. They rarely bite, but they are EVERYWHERE (in my yard). They even tried to move into my car. EVERYWHERE.

Will a tinfoil hat protect me from killer flies? (1)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947445)

What happens when the flies run out of ant brains to devour? Will they crave human brains?

Australians have a simpler solution (5, Informative)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27947455)

In Australia we have recently had the fire ant invade our island nation with some very nasty environmental results. After years of study the CSIRO have discovered an inherent weakness with the fire ants colonies. The queen is the only ant able to breed in a colony so if you disable her the colony dies. So what we do here in the land of the sun and over sized rabbits called kangaroos is put the fire ant the queen on the pill, so far it has worked very well but like everything needs to be managed.

More info can be found here [abc.net.au]
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