Zooillogix

It seems like we’ve been covering zombie bugs a lot lately. The newest story comes from Texas, where researchers are trying out a new form of pest control on invasive fire ants: using parasitic flies to lay eggs in the ants brains, zombify them, and then explode their heads with emerging larvae. Seems reasonable.

i-045016f2edab91cc03bd1f844216bfc1-antfly.jpg

We’re under attack!

Researchers at Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension Service in Overton, in East Texas are experimenting by releasing four different species of phorid flies (a native predator of fire ants from their native South America) into fire ants’ new habitats. The flies apparently “dive bomb” the ants, and lay eggs inside of them. The fly larvae then move into the ants’ brains, hollowing them out. The ants wander aimlessly for two weeks like zombies, essentially without brains, until the larvae burst out of their heads like the Kool-Aid guy through the wall of your living room when you were a kid.

i-6a7e2606776e614a7191e0e3fb9744c1-antfly2.jpg

What do we want? Braaaaiiins! How are we going to get them? Braaaaiiins!

While the results have been promising, it may take more than a decade to determine if the flies have any real effect. Hmmm…I wonder if there’s a fly that zombifies and explodes the heads of Texans. I could DEFINITELY find a market for that.

Comments

  1. #1 neil
    May 21, 2009

    OHHHHH YEAAAAAAHHHHH!

  2. #2 ym
    May 21, 2009

    Like the wasps that deposit their eggs in tomato horn worms. While the caterpillars are busy devouring the leaves of your tomato plant the former are getting ready to devour them.

  3. #3 Skyen
    May 21, 2009

    If there is a God, he’s a NASTY motherf***er.

  4. #4 naught101
    May 22, 2009

    Sounds like a recipe for wiping out native ant species, who would probably have no defence against the flies.

    Great images though :)

  5. #5 Zelly
    May 22, 2009

    Next time I get a headache I will remember this post and become paranoid.

    The policy of using a non native species to attack another non native species always makes me nervous. History has shown this can backfire big time.

    Neil also gets a +1 for his comment.

  6. #6 milkshake
    May 22, 2009

    I thought this question about God – whether or not He is an old sadistic Nazi – has been authoritatively answered in the Old Testament.

    I very much like the parasites that make the zombified host do something specific for the parasite – like drown itself so that the parasite can emerge in water or get itself eaten so that the parasite can move into the next host.

  7. #7 juliagoolia
    May 22, 2009

    Humans are ‘god’.

    And we are nasty, motherfucking, sadistic nazis.

    OHHH YEEAAAHHHH!!!

  8. #8 Hilary Minor
    May 22, 2009

    “Sounds like a recipe for wiping out native ant species, who would probably have no defence against the flies.”

    I read an article that says the phorid flies (horrid flies!) don’t attack the native ants – only the fire ants that they know a love so well from their homeland. Aaaahhh!

  9. #9 Hilary Minor
    May 22, 2009

    “Sounds like a recipe for wiping out native ant species, who would probably have no defence against the flies.”

    I read an article that says the phorid flies (horrid flies!) don’t attack the native ants – only the fire ants that they know a love so well from their homeland. Aaaahhh!

  10. #10 Alex
    May 22, 2009

    There is some evidence that the flies will attack a native fire ant species that’s *very* closely related to the pesty introduced ones, but little reason to suspect they’d be able to switch to other, more distant, native hosts.

    Incidentally, that top photo was only taken a few weeks ago, making its internet debut on ScienceBlogs last month:

    http://scienceblogs.com/photosynthesis/2009/04/slow_death_from_the_skies_phor.php

  11. #11 llewelly
    May 23, 2009

    I wonder if there’s a fly that zombifies and explodes the heads of Texans.

    It’s called religion. Works on people of every sort, in fact.

  12. #12 Katie the Intern
    May 24, 2009

    Totally radical! I’m sure this won’t lead to any mutations or botched experiments that result in the extinction of mankind.

  13. #13 seks
    May 24, 2009

    Unfitting maybe, but not really unfair. During his career, Gould gave as good as he got and he was not above occasionally creating cardboard versions of his opponents and/or their views.

  14. #14 Jim Thomerson
    May 27, 2009

    No doubt all you you have relatives or friends who have migrated to Texas. They write you glowing accounts of their lives up here in Texas, and you are doing sour grapes about not being able to come here. But, as a Native Texan, I assure you that Texas is a horrible place and you are much better off staying in whatever sinkhole you call home. So just be happy and do the best you can where you are. In any case, do not come to Austin, the most congested mid-size city in Texas. (Does it not seem odd that anything in Texas would be characterized as mid-sized.)

  15. #15 Zach Miller
    May 29, 2009

    Alaskan like me love to remind Texas that Alaska is not just bigger than Texas, but it’s also more than half the size of the combined Lower 48. Alaska, for whatever reason, draws in the Texans. Seriously, half the people who work in my building are from Texas. It’s bizarre–why would people who grew up in devilishly hot flatland come to an mountainous icebox that’s white for eight months a year? Is it the oil? The comfort of winter boots after the pain and agony of cowboy boots?

  16. #16 milkshake
    May 30, 2009

    I think its the combination of the oil reserves, oversized ego and bad taste

  17. #17 seks
    May 31, 2009

    Researchers at Duke University have concluded that monkeys don’t respond solely to direct punishment or rewards for their actions. They can, according to the scientists, actually adjust future behavior when shown the reward or punishment they would have received had they chosen to behave differently.

  18. #18 TJ
    June 1, 2009

    “I wonder if there’s a fly that zombifies and explodes the heads of Texans.”

    Really? …so hateful! No Dallas Zoo shot glass for you!

  19. #19 Konteyner
    June 16, 2009

    And we are nasty, motherfucking, sadistic nazis.
    I love ants

  20. #20 Hiphop
    June 17, 2009

    Totally radical! I’m sure this won’t lead to any mutations or botched experiments that result in the extinction of mankind.

  21. #21 php coder
    June 17, 2009

    very good

  22. #22 neon
    June 20, 2009

    Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

  23. #23 MMO
    July 5, 2009

    Ants are actually some of the coolest animals on earth. They are the only species, other than humans, to conduct organized large scale warfare, and one ant colony is actually located on 3 continents. They communicate, and never fight members of their own colony. How awesome is that?

  24. #24 Brianna
    July 13, 2009

    I’v gotten bit by a fire ants on my foot befor. IT HERTS BADLY!!!!!!!!!

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    August 23, 2010

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  28. #28 Jiletli Tel
    November 14, 2011

    razor wire and barbed wire

  29. #29 abe
    February 3, 2012

    God warn us from small creature first! How if it infect human maybe in different “invasion” way?

  30. #30 Diego Brito
    March 21, 2012

    Oh my God! Will soon be making human.I hope that happen when I’m not is here anymore!

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