Tag Archives: Ants

Exploding Ants: It’s Real

1exploding antIn the dark, misguided world of ants, there’s a complete spectrum of ant terrorism that threatens all the insect world and beyond. The raspberry crazy ants must surely have a rap sheet for cocaine possession equivalent to the collective total of the Rolling Stones. Fire ants are just mean in an ugly, unified way, showing no thought or remorse in their attacks. And then there are the real extremists: Exploding Ants. These are the ants of mass destruction.

While I have some really great people in my tribe of friends and I would do almost anything for them, I’m probably not going to blow myself up to protect them. I’d take a bullet for my kids, but I’m still not sure I’d voluntarily explode my personage on their behalf. In the same vein, I’m not a good candidate to be an ISIS bride with a body bomb in a crowded market in Syria. That’s just not me. Not so, though, for exploding ants!

When threatened, these little ISIS-like insects will sacrifice themselves by exploding their bodies and sliming their enemies with a sticky, yellow irritant that either scares them off or kills them. If they don’t run away, I’m guessing the enemy may die of shock as much as from being slimed. Because honestly, the last thing you expect when you’re in hand-to-hand-to-hand-to-hand (they’re insects, they have a lot of hands) combat with an ant, is for it to suddenly pull the pin and blow up.

All this is not to scare you. You can still sleep at night, because exploding ants seem to be found primarily in the rain forests of Borneo. Unless you’re reading this in a wet Borneo tree, then ramp up your concern levels. But how long before they show up here? How long before other insects catch on to this trick? Or reptiles?! Personally, I’d love to see all snakes explode. But what if it continues to spread? How long before you’re hiking through Yosemite and Yogi Bear explodes because you startled him? You only have to Google “exploding whale” to see the video of what happened in Oregon in 1970. (No, really. Do it.)

As a responsible journalist, I’m here to write the news, not invent it. If you think I’ve made all this up, check it out for yourself at http://www.ExplodingAnts.com. But wear your Kevlar.

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Zombie Ants

zombie-antsI was sitting around somewhere recently where I had to wait. Probably a doctor’s office or the oil change place or something. This is usually the only chance I have to actually pick up a magazine and thumb through it. At this particular hurry-up-and-wait location, I picked up a back issue of Texas Monthly to read the article on fire ants. Oh, that was a mistake.

It seems that those wacky researchers at Texas A&M have discovered that there is this certain type of fly that will lay eggs in the neck of fire ants. The larvae then start to feed on the fluids of the fire ant’s body until it gets to the brain. As it devours the ant brain – and what a gourmet meal that has to be – the ant slowly becomes a zombie. The ant zombie then mindlessly wanders away from the mound forgetting that it has important work to do, like organizing commando raids on innocent gardeners.

Eventually, far from the mound it use to call home and completely devoid of brain function and bodily fluids, the ant’s head finally just falls off and the new fly emerges.
First of all, this whole thing has a gross-out rating of 38 on a scale from one to 10. I hate fire ants as much as the next guy, but fly larvae who live in ant necks and eat their brains is disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, just because it’s disgusting doesn’t mean I’m not all for it. I just think that there’s a B-horror movie script in this: “Attack of the Zombie Ants” or “Lord of the Brain-Eating Flies.” Feel free to pause here and come up with a few of your own.

Secondly, what super nerd A&M scientist happened to be tagging along behind some pregnant fly to discover she was planting larvae in ant necks? Or did he work backwards? “Hey, where did all these headless zombie ants come from?” Either way, there’s a guy out there who probably needs a make-over on several levels.

What is completely alarming, though, is that more and more I find myself wandering into a room and wondering why I’m there, sometimes feeling dehydrated … Could someone please come check my neck?!?!

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Ants, Plants and a Bad Hair Day

antIts spring and I am at war. The battle rages on several fronts, all of them equally fierce and the outcomes are all questionable. Most unfortunately, I am quickly learning how ill-equipped and incompetent I am to face these nemeses. Yet, in the true spirit of the underdog, I push hopelessly forward.

My first enemy: the banana tree. Truly this menace is the herpes of the garden. There is no cure. Ever. During the Vietnam War, thousands of banana trees were torched by flame-throwers and napalm only to reappear fully grown two weeks later as if nothing had happened. Why would anyone plant one of these viruses? Kroger has bananas for 19 cents a pound all the time. You don’t need to grow your own, for heaven’s sake! Go to the store already! Still, I have sharpened the blade on the machete, purchased several industrial barrels of Round-Up, and put plans in place to salt the earth. Regardless, I know I will not win. 

What only intensifies the humiliation is listening to the fire ants laugh at my feeble attempts for domination. They, of course, are on my hit list. And their eradication is also my exercise in futility. I’ve tried pouring boiling water on their mounds. I’ve invested more than the national debt in worthless poisons. I’ve even tried shoveling heaps from one side of the yard onto another in the hopes that they’d just fight it out and kill each other off. Instead, they band together and plot to destroy my universe. Again, I know I will not win. 

As I do every spring when the humidity starts to rise, I fight the frizz with great futility. Anyone who dares say, “What nice curly hair you have” gets punched in the throat. Oh yes, that’s me out in the yard covered in ant bites, screaming obscenities at the newest banana scourge looking like blonde cotton candy has sprouted out of my head. I am, however, undaunted. I now have five different deep root conditioners and I’m NOT AFRAID TO USE THEM! Yes, I know I will not win this one either. But at least I will have soft, damage-free frizz.

The struggle is real. So if you need me, I’ll be in the bunker mapping out invasion strategies and waiting for the hot oil to repair my split ends.

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Zombie Ants

bug%20monster

I was sitting around somewhere recently where I had to wait. Probably a doctor’s office or the oil change place or something. This is usually the only chance I have to actually pick up a magazine and thumb through it. At this particular hurry-up-and-wait location, I picked up a back issue of Texas Monthly to read the article on fire ants. Oh, that was a mistake.

It seems that those wacky researchers at Texas A&M have discovered that there is this certain type of fly that will lay eggs in the neck of fire ants. The larvae then start to feed on the fluids of the fire ant’s body until it gets to the brain. As it devours the ant brain – and what a gourmet meal that has to be – the ant slowly becomes a zombie. The ant zombie then mindlessly wanders away from the mound forgetting that it has important work to do, like organizing commando raids on innocent gardeners.

Eventually, far from the mound it use to call home and completely devoid of brain function and bodily fluids, the ant’s head finally just falls off and the new fly emerges.

First of all, this whole thing has a gross-out rating of 38 on a scale from one to 10. I hate fire ants as much as the next guy, but fly larvae who live in ant necks and eat their brains is disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, just because it’s disgusting doesn’t mean I’m not all for it. I just think that there’s a B-horror movie script in this: “Attack of the Zombie Ants” or “Lord of the Brain-Eating Flies.” Feel free to pause here and come up with a few of your own.

Secondly, what super nerd A&M scientist happened to be tagging along behind some pregnant fly to discover she was planting larvae in ant necks? Or did he work backwards? “Hey, where did all these headless zombie ants come from?” Either way, there’s a guy out there who probably needs a make-over on several levels.

What is completely alarming, though, is that more and more I find myself wandering into a room and wondering why I’m there, sometimes feeling dehydrated … Could someone please come check my neck?!?!

(Originally published in The Source Weekly May 6, 2010)

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