Friday, May 23, 2008

Look Out: The Ant of All Ants

In other news worthy of rankling those who wonder why evolution isn't happening now, I give you the raspberry ant:

"Look out, Texas Gulf Coast, here comes Paratrechina pubens, or something like that. Tom Rasberry, an exterminator, is said to have discovered the ants in 2002. He offered to lend his name to the pest.

Scientists do not quite know what to call them, they are so new. But folks in the damp coastal belt south of Houston have their own names (some of them printable) for the little invaders now seemingly everywhere: on the move underfoot; infesting woodlands, yards and gardens; nesting in electrical boxes and causing shorts; and even raising anxiety at Hobby Airport and the Johnson Space Center.

The ant is a previously unknown variety with a staggering propensity to reproduce and no known enemies. The species, which bites but does not sting, was first identified here in 2002 by a Pearland exterminator, Tom Rasberry, who quickly lent his name to the find: the crazy rasberry ant."

But it gets even better. How about taking down livestock, and even fire ants:

"“They’re the ant of all ants,” said Dr. Nester, who said they had infested five coastal counties, “and are moving about half a mile a year.” But he said broad areas of Texas and beyond were probably not threatened because the ants preferred the warmth and moistness of the coast.

Variants of the species found in Colombia have been known to asphyxiate chickens and even attack cattle by swarming over their eyes, nasal passages and hooves, according to the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M, which is conducting much of the research on the ants. It lists some of the findings on its Web site: The ants often eat fire ants, with which they are sometimes compared, and they “outcompete” fire ants for the food supply and reproduce far faster, Mr. Meyers said. "

They also have multiple queens, and are not attracted to any effective exterminants. Resistence is futile, at least until something evolves an appetite for the little prolific critters. Given their extremely high growth rate, it seems a nice niche to fill.


alex said...

"In other news worthy of rankling those who wonder why evolution isn't happening now,..."

I trust you realize that the vast majority of your ideological opponents readily acknowledge that /this/ type of evolution /is/ happening now.

ScienceAvenger said...

You are falling for the con. My ideological opponents deny evolution, and make up categories of evolution based on no science. Until they provide some science to back their arbitrary distinctions, there is no reason to grant the fake argument that this type of evolution is different than any other.

alex said...

Well, didn't this paleobiologist (who is needless not to say a creationist) write an essay titled "Macroevolution is more than repeated rounds of microevolution,” Evolution and Development"?