View Full Version : Parasitic flies turn fire ants into zombies

Buzz Mills
05-13-2009, 12:10 AM
Parasitic flies turn fire ants into zombies

It sounds like something out of science fiction: zombie fire ants. But it's all too real. Fire ants wander aimlessly away from the mound. Eventually their heads fall off, and they die.

The strange part is that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service say making "zombies" out of fire ants is a good thing. "It's a tool they're not going to completely wipe out the fire ant, but it's a way to control their population," said Scott Ludwig , an integrated pest management specialist with the AgriLife Extension Service in Overton , in East Texas .

The tool is the tiny phorid fly, native to a region of South America where the fire ants in Texas originated. Researchers have learned that there are as many as 23 phorid species along with pathogens that attack fire ants to keep their population and movements under control. So far, four phorid species have been introduced in Texas . The flies "dive-bomb" the fire ants and lay eggs. The maggot that hatches inside the ant eats away at the brain, and the ant starts exhibiting what some might say is zombie-like behavior. "At some point, the ant gets up and starts wandering," said Rob Plowes, a research associate at UT.


05-13-2009, 02:21 PM
All I can say is freaky, weird, and odd!

05-16-2009, 05:49 AM
Read about this 10 years ago on a Doctor of Entomologists' Site

The problem is while they might think they are "semi solving the ant problem" it has caused an insurmountable problem with us "humans" in the form of a myriad of skin issues, crop issues etc.

Seems like they always leave cause and effect out of the think tanks....:mad:

05-16-2009, 11:56 AM
ugh. I won't miss the fire ants. Once I stubbed my toe on the beach, so I was walking back to the car and apparently stepped on their hill and they attacked my bleeding toe!! :(