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   Undertoad  Monday Aug 28 12:55 PM

August 28, 2006: Fire ant raft



This page from a bug identification giude was linked to by Digg the other day. The photo was taken in Kissimmee, Florida.

Apparently this variety of ants do this to survive when their nest is flooded. As if a flood wasn't scary enough. But in case you're still underwhelmed, guess what happens to you if you encounter one of these things?

According to this document (bold emphasis mine):

Quote:
Colonies of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, can survive flood conditions by forming a raft of workers that floats on the water’s surface until the flood recedes or higher ground is found. Forced from the protection of their nests and left without retreat, rafting colonies are both exposed and cornered, and are thus more vulnerable to damage than they would be otherwise.

As a logical corollary, I tested the hypothesis that rafting colonies would compensate for their elevated vulnerability through an increase in worker defensiveness. I measured defensiveness using the amount of venom workers deliver per sting, since the pain and tissue damage caused by fire ant venom (i.e. its repellency) is dose-dependent. In the lab, I assayed the venom doses delivered by S. invicta workers before and after flooding them from their nests with water. Workers delivered significantly higher venom doses while rafting than they did defending their nests pre-flood. Mechanistically, the unusual concentration of workers during rafting may result in a concomitantly unusual concentration of alarm pheromones, and thus the increase in defensiveness. Functionally, the increase in venom dose during rafting should serve to better protect the exposed colony from molestation. From a practical standpoint, human encounters with fire ants during flood conditions have the potential to be unusually dangerous; not only are large concentrations of workers exposed and available for defense, but they deliver significantly larger venom doses when they sting.
It's a giant mass of painful death. Hope you can swim.


Flint  Monday Aug 28 12:57 PM

"portly stallion"?



rkzenrage  Monday Aug 28 01:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Undertoad
Hope you can swim.
I think that would be the problem.


lulu  Monday Aug 28 01:09 PM

That damn picture just gave me the itchies.



Stormieweather  Monday Aug 28 01:11 PM

'dizzying intellectual' ?


Fire ants are da debil. You haven't felt pain until you've suffered a few stings from those critters. And they swell. And they itch ferociously. I would not get near one of those rafts for a million dollars.



Shawnee123  Monday Aug 28 01:15 PM

bugs make me cry



footfootfoot  Monday Aug 28 01:20 PM

When I was a teenager I sat down on a nest of fire ants or someother red, stinging ant, as I was watching the sunrise coming down off an all night mushroom trip.

kind of a buzz kill



Beestie  Monday Aug 28 02:08 PM

I could go on and on about fire ants. Just leave 'em be.



euchrid  Monday Aug 28 02:11 PM

Quote:
In the lab, I assayed the venom doses delivered by S. invicta workers before and after flooding them from their nests with water.
Get a real job. Can you picture the guy in a lab coat, surrounded by huge glass fish tanks the size of swimming pools, sending out little rafts of fireants, or sneaking up to fireant nests and pouring tanks of water of them? Don't scientists have something better to do?

And how did he "assay the venom dose"? I like to think he threw a fellow lab technician, naked except for a swimming costume, onto the raft.

Maybe he could get in touch with the naked pig lady and they could do a double act.


glatt  Monday Aug 28 02:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by euchrid
Get a real job.
This is the kind of science that is great at stumbling across useful discoveries.

What if the chemical compound that triggers this increase in venom production is related to adrenaline, and winds up being exactly the compound that heart attack victims need to save their lives? You never know where science will lead.

You'd rather the scientist be stuck hugging a dead pig than working on expanding human knowledge?


Beestie  Monday Aug 28 02:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by euchrid
Get a real job.
Fire ants have been known to kill infants and toddlers in the southern U.S. Any effort that focuses on understanding them better is time and taxpayer money well spent.


Elspode  Monday Aug 28 03:22 PM

Is that a whole bunch of cigarette butts those rafting ants are surrounding?



rkzenrage  Monday Aug 28 03:32 PM

Those are they fliers, one of the types of soldiers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beestie
I could go on and on about fire ants. Just leave 'em be.
They are not indigenous and, therefore, should be wiped-out along with the current wild pigs that killed all of our FL pigs.


Shawnee123  Monday Aug 28 03:54 PM

Watch out, the killer bees are coming.



Lucy  Monday Aug 28 04:03 PM

FIRE ANTS! FIRE ANTS!

Oh. Sorry. Habit.
Those things ARE the debil. They leave scars, dagnabbit.



The 42  Monday Aug 28 05:45 PM

Quote:
Is that a whole bunch of cigarette butts those rafting ants are surrounding?
No, they're the junior queens. (Still have their wings) If they were cigarette butts then the ants would be too stoned to cling to each other- the little buggers can't hold their nicotine

Bugs and cigarettes- eep! Now my skin is crawling!


Griff  Monday Aug 28 07:38 PM

mmmm... hot cakes



xoxoxoBruce  Monday Aug 28 09:14 PM

I wonder what they taste like?



Dagney  Monday Aug 28 09:39 PM

I'm bettin a little spicy



Stonan  Monday Aug 28 09:42 PM

A garden hose, some gas and a match.

Fight fire with fire I always say...



The 42  Tuesday Aug 29 02:59 AM

Works for me!



capnhowdy  Tuesday Aug 29 05:06 PM

Someone I know lost a few newborn puppies to these bastards. I wish I had every one in the world in a quart jar. That way I'd know they were dead. Some say everything in nature serves a purpose. Somebody please tell me what the hell good these animals are.



Flint  Tuesday Aug 29 05:16 PM

I'll tell you one thing, they've mostly driven the black ants off of my family's land, and therefore the Horny Toads that ate the black ants. Which sucks.



onetrack  Wednesday Aug 30 03:30 AM

I'm with Stonan .. I'd love to squirt a litre of gasoline on that raft and light it up ..

There is NO reason whatsoever for these things to exist .. along with mosquitoes and every other annoying useless insect ever known to annoy and injure mankind ..

Thanks to some pretty lax quarantine, these **#*%$#** things escaped into the Australian countryside, around Brisbane in Queensland .. and started breeding like wildfire ..

Fortunately some prompt action by individuals and a concerted Govt campaign, have seen them controlled, and virtually eliminated.

Meantimes .. the exercise to contain and eliminate the fire ant, has burnt up AU$173 MILLION of our hard-earned $$ .. to get rid of a pest we didn't have, and didn't need ..

http://www2.dpi.qld.gov.au/fireants/



rkzenrage  Wednesday Aug 30 03:32 AM

Mosquitoes, unfortunately, are food for a lot of awesome indigenous animals... but fire-ants are invaders and I would wipe them all out today if I could.



euchrid  Wednesday Aug 30 09:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt
You never know where science will lead... You'd rather the scientist be stuck hugging a dead pig than working on expanding human knowledge?
We all know where science leads. To more money for rich businessmen, who fund most of their work. Are the scientists testing the venom in fire ants to protect
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beestie
infants and toddlers in the southern U.S. ?
Or might they be submitting their findings to the Army?

Science finds cures for things that are caused by the way we live; heart attacks are more common because science has 'advanced' agriculture and food production in a way that means it has less nutrional value, while mysteriously increasing the profits of certain companies. Don't tell me science 'will save us all'; science does good and bad, often simultaneously, just like 'normal' people.

Interesting that no-one (including me) stuck up for the 'naked pig lady', but if you do something similar in a white coat, people will rush to your defence. What if the naked pig lady could be said to be pushing the frontiers of human imagination and challenging our understanding of the world; what if her art installation directly inspires a scientist to find the solution to curing cancer by using dead pig tissue (scientific research has found that pig tissue and human tissue bear an uncanny similarity)?


capnhowdy  Wednesday Aug 30 08:07 PM

mmmmm... naked pig lady nuggets.



xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Aug 30 08:56 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by euchrid
snip~ What if the naked pig lady could be said to be pushing the frontiers of human imagination and challenging our understanding of the world; ~snip
Then whoever said it would be just wacko as the pig woman.


Sarasvati48  Monday Sep 4 03:33 PM

Ants keep the world clean. They eat dead things and clean up carrion...



capnhowdy  Monday Sep 4 08:26 PM

Damn. I do that too. But I'm an uncle.

Welcome to the Cellar, Sarasvati48. That's hard to type.



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