Social Chromosome in Fire Ants Allows for More Than One Queen
Nearly every science fiction flick offers the same solution when the heroes have to bring down an entire predatory alien race's social structure: Remove the matriarch and the rest will fall. No problem for them since -- advanced weaponry and flame throwers aside -- there's only a single queen to contend with, while us schmucks on Earth are left fighting a losing battle against a relentless foe governed by more than one ruling matriarch. Okay, maybe our endless war against the menace of red fire ants isn't as grandiose as those seen in the movies, but that isn't to say that their being ruled by a council of queens doesn't leave the human race vexed. Although red fire ants typically allow for only one female ant in the proverbial seat of power, some carry chromosomes that make them open minded to the idea of having more than individual bossing them around. Thanks to recent research, we just might be able have this genetic trait work to our advantage. Hear that, you ant bastards, we're coming for you!Read on...
Mere Water Will Not Extinguish Fire Ants [Video]
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have done perhaps the only serious engineering study that involves dumping a bunch of fire ants in water and watching what happens. Engineering professor David Hu and grad student Nathan J. Mlot were interested in reports they had heard of South American fire ants forming massive rafts out of themselves and clumping together during flooding, and after gathering up fire ants by the roadside in Georgia, they put the anecdotes to the test.
"They'll gather up all the eggs in the colony and will make their way up through the underground network of tunnels, and when the flood waters rise above the ground, they'll link up together in these massive rafts," Mlot said.But in addition to making for some neat time-lapse videos, one of which is above, the researchers were doing science here:Read on...