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February 11th, 2001

Internal Decapitation

Internal Decapitation

(… that would be a good name for a death metal band…)

In the 1930’s, South American red fire ants found their way to the southern United States by way of a cargo ship. Since then, they have caused much annoyance to southerners and even killed a few (about six a year!). One elderly woman died as the fire ants infiltrated her bed and bit her over a thousand times. These little buggers are, quite literally, a pain.

The ants are slowly, but surely, moving northward and westward, and scientists are concerned at the problems these ants could cause if they were to spread across the entire country. But, thanks to a special kind of gnat-like fly, these ants may have a tough future ahead of them.

In a laboratory study, scientists set the fly loose on a number of red fire ants. After hovering above an ant, the fly swoops down and injects an egg into the ant’s body. The ant is stunned momentarily, but goes about its business. In time, the egg hatches into a maggot that finds its way to the ant’s head and feeds on its juices. When the maggot’s ready to grow up, it eats away at the cuticle in the ant’s neck, causing the head to fall off. The maggot feeds on the fly brain and makes its home in the head for a few weeks until it’s a full-blown fly.

Wow — that’s way cool.

Read up on this fascinating fly and imagine what you would do if you had these abilities.

Thanks to lurker John G. for the pointer. -ram

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Matt
DATE: Sunday February 11, 2001 -- 2:32:23AM
I was in Florida this past summer and I got bit by some of those fire ants. Ouch, those are some stingy mugs.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Sunday February 11, 2001 -- 3:29:44AM
(... that would be a good name for a death metal band...)

We already have Decapitated (from Poland), Decapitate (from Northern VA), and Internal Void (from Maryland). Maybe if they got together . . .

FROM: Tony
DATE: Sunday February 11, 2001 -- 9:36:37AM
There not as bad as they are made out to be, mosquito bites are WORSE by far. Its been several years since my last ant bite, simply because I wear shoes when I go outside. (belive it or not, thats the main point of where bites occur, the feet.) Besides that, in Florida, you've got ticks, chiggers, fist-sized wasps, and red tide. Fire ants are the least of our problems.

FROM: Tina
DATE: Sunday February 11, 2001 -- 12:13:06PM
Ryan, in your accompanying pic on this page - is that a fire ant bite on your face or just another one of those sexy moles you like to pencil in once in a while? Yummy! :)

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Sunday February 11, 2001 -- 12:40:02PM
You know, Tina, I have had this burning sensation on my face for a while... maybe that thing isn't a mole after all...

FROM: Robert
DATE: Sunday February 11, 2001 -- 10:24:47PM
Ryan--I think YOU are the Mole.

FROM: Vinny
DATE: Monday February 12, 2001 -- 2:08:10AM
Note the original problem here: the introduction of a foreign species. Same thing happened with Zebra Mussels in Lake Erie. Their population explosion is having a severe impact on the original lake ecology. The irony here is that these people think they can fight one species introduction (fire ants) with another (these flies). No amount of study is going to be able to show that this new introduction isn't going to provide more problems than it solves. But, the whole gestation process is pretty cool...

What is this then?

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