Tag Archives: flies

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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SMACKDOWN: Flies v Mosquitoes

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Texas (where I’m from) and Saudi Arabia (where I live) have a lot of things in common. Texas has big, wide-open spaces. Saudi Arabia has big, wide-open spaces. Texas has its share of crazy people in its government, and so does Saudi Arabia. Texas and Saudi Arabia both have a lot of oil. Texas has mosquitoes that will drive you to drink. But this is where it splits. Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a lot of mosquitoes (which may explain why they don’t drink), but they do have flies. And the flies can make you nuts.

In the late summer on the Texas coast when the mosquitoes are being blown in off the salt grass in clouds, you always have a plan of defense. You can spray yourself in Teflon Off, fog your yard, stay inside, wear long sleeves, and if one lands on you, you smack the little bugger. Game over. You always have sense of superiority over the mosquito; feel that you go into it with an advantage.

It’s not that easy with these flies. These flies are smart. They know our weaknesses and how to push our buttons. I’m suspicious that they might even have the super power of invisible cloaking, because as soon as you try to hunt one down with a flyswatter to slaughter it, it disappears. Only to reemerge when you put the flyswatter down.

Once a fly has zeroed in and targeted you for torture, it has a one track mind. You can’t just shoosh it away, it won’t go. If you go to another room, city, part of the world, know that the fly will go with you. It’s like a virus.

In an effort to get the upper hand, I got online to learn more about my enemy. I’ve narrowed the perpetrators down to Blow Flies. Overall annoying, but harmless according to several websites. Unless they lay their eggs in your nose while you’re sleeping. Suddenly, I’m thinking West Nile, Malaria and Dengue Fever aren’t really so bad. Not when you compare it to having a newly born nursery of blow flies crawling out of your nasal openings.

After learning this, I’ve made some important changes in my life here in the Kingdom. I’ve become a ninja when it comes to hunting and killing flies now. As part of my new ninja training, I’m able to sleep with one eye open. And I’ve learned to appreciate mosquito bites. 

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