Showing posts with label ant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ant. Show all posts

Stopping the Spread of the Complex Red Fire Ant

Australia is fighting against the spread of red fire ants. This pest has invaded other countries such as the US. Nothing seems to work to stop their malicious takeover. They give a nasty bite. It was thought to be a simple kind of ant but studies have shown it to be a complex creature.

It has two distinct variants in its social structure. Normally colonies keep their distance. On the other hand, many colonies do form a supercolony where queens work together and breed in safety. Ants of the supercolony do kill queens of isolated colonies.

The ants are different genetically. Queens of individual colonies are fatter. This is to feed the first larvae when they start the colony. Queens who work together never need the "boost" fat. The change of a single gene dramatically changes physicality and behavior. It is contentious as to whether there will be an evolutionary winner. We just do not know at this stage.

It is hoped that chemicals producing violent behavior can be identified and used against the pest. Could this be interfering in the evolution of a species? Of course it is. We have been selecting for preferential genes in many animals and plants for thousands of years.
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New Weapon to Fight Cane Toads

At last - a solution to Australia's can toad problem. Decades ago the pest was introduced from Hawaii to combat bugs that were attacking sugar cane, but instead of eating the target beetles the cane toads went about settling down here and have been destroying the native habitat ever since. Cane toads have recently reached Perth in Western Australia. Now they are established in every Australian state.

Everything has been tried to kill them from hitting them with sticks, gassing them with carbon dioxide, to freezing them. None of this has had any effect on their numbers. A way has now been found, however, of killing off the pests. Placing a few teaspoons of cat food next to ponds in the Northern Territory attracts meat eating ants. When the baby can toads appear from the pond they are eaten by the ants.

Most native creatures are affected by the poisonous toxin put out by can toads. Fortunately, the ants are fully resistant. All the toad eggs hatch at the same time, so if you activate the ants you win the battle. The ants kill 98 percent of baby toads in the first two minutes. Eighty percent of survivors die of inuries during the next day.

Already do-gooders are complaining, saying ants killing toads is inumane. One species killing another is as natural as it can get. What else can be done? Are we expected to give them a packed lunch and send them on they way?
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