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    Science & Technology

    Fighting Invasive Species, Zombie Style

    By Christopher Palmer
    Published: June 1, 2012

    The history of how red imported fire ants came to North America has a destructive end. Every year the non-native ants cause more than $1 billion of impact in Texas alone.

    In this video, learn what innovative scientists at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) are doing to combat this destructive invasive species, under the guidance of Larry Gilbert, BFL director and professor of integrative biology.

    Read more about the Fire Ant Project.

    • Quote 2
      Allen Tsai said on June 18, 2012 at 2:13 p.m.
      I think the most logical way to reduce fireant numbers is to reduce their food source. Like all animals, fireants need food to survive.
    • Quote 2
      Jamie said on June 15, 2012 at 1:36 p.m.
      Have the scientists thought about alternatives like feeding fire ants grits? My grandma mentioned pine oil.
    • Quote 2
      Kris said on June 15, 2012 at 8:50 a.m.
      How many failures before scientists realize that these kinds of wildlife management strategies have unforeseen consequences that often become problems that are greater than the one they were trying to solve in the first place?
    • Quote 2
      Jackie Parchman said on June 14, 2012 at 6:41 p.m.
      I am very grateful for the research you are undertaking--fireants are so very destructive! I have taken to making my garden on the patio and raised so that the threat of fireants can be better managed. Keep up the good work! P.S. How long do you estimate that the population might be noticibly reduced?
    • Quote 2
      Johnny Perel said on June 14, 2012 at 6:01 p.m.
      Good points. I wonder if there could be some way to control "evil" pests in the same way that we "control" viruses and/or bacteria. Of course we don't do a very good job of controlling the microbes, either.
    • Quote 2
      José Banda Gómez said on June 14, 2012 at 5:48 p.m.
      Unfortunately these are some of the risks that innovative scientists have to take, sometimes the negative consequences become more harmful than the original problem. J. Banda G. Mexico.
    • Quote 2
      R. Gohring said on June 14, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.
      Happy to see he lead story is about the academic endeavors, versus sports and entertainment. I hope future issues do the same. Enjoyed the story and the initial dialogue about invasive species and the potential for the solution to potentially be a problem.
    • Quote 2
      Thunder Barragan said on June 14, 2012 at 11:45 a.m.
      Would it be possible to harvest large numbers of ants for human consumption? I am not familiar with the nutriional viability or lack thereof regarding this particular ant, but I do know ants are eaten regularly throughout the world. Food for thought!
    • Quote 2
      Rudolf M. Kantu said on June 14, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.
      This project provides a whole new, foreboding, meaning to our tagline, "What starts here changes the world." I am overwhelmed now with a sudden need to pull my collar up over my neck.
    • Quote 2
      Jo said on June 14, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.
      I saw a published picture of a honeybee with a parasite emerging from it's body. It said it was an unknown parasite, and was saying that that may be the cause of the honeybee die off. I hope it is not the same parasite as above, not saying it is, just curious.
    • Quote 2
      Ralph said on June 14, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.
      The above link to the Fire Ant Project provides answers to questions about potential problem(s) that might be posed by the flies in the future. They are very specific in what they eat down to the species of fire ant they are targeting. http://web.biosci.utexas.edu/fireant/FAQ%20Answers.html#4
    • Quote 2
      Johnathan said on June 14, 2012 at 6:39 a.m.
      Rita, that is an excellent question! This video makes me think of how scientists introduced the cane toad to Australia to eat beetles that were threatening sugarcane, and now the toad is an invasive species. Scientists would do well to think in the more "dark ecology" ways that philosopher Timothy Morton proposes. The title of this article seems to suggest that as a culture, we are the Zombies unaware of the unintended consequences of the introduction of new species.
    • Quote 2
      Rita Wilkinson said on June 12, 2012 at 6:23 a.m.
      What potential problem(s) might the flies pose in the future as their numbers increase?
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    Download: Save as .mp4 | Podcast (iTunes)

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