Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Well, That's It Then


Since the 1930's, South American fire ants have been spreading themselves across the gulf coast in a giant sweeping arc of devastation originating at the original importation ground-zero of Mobile, Alabama. Do they have papers? No. Do they care? Oh, hell no.

We have them in our yard. Everyone I know does, actually. Nothing native to this continent eats them and regular pesticides seem to only make them more angry. You can actually spray a mound of fire ants with a hose, wash it downhill and watch as they rebuild at the spot where they stopped their water ride.

I don't like them. They leave nasty welts on people and try every week to keep me from dragging the trash can to the road.

That's why I was excited to hear that research done just a few miles from our subdivision had resulted in an exciting find. Until I learned what the find was, anyway.

For anyone who didn't bother to click the link, the solution they endorse is a virus, reproduced in a laboratory, which kills fire ants.

I'll clarify that. The solution they endorse is a virus, reproduced in a laboratory, which kills fire ants -- right now. Of course, a virus mutates. This is why flu shots are different every year.

Now, since very few of the people who read Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng are the type to spend all day every day in some entomology lab, we all know what this means. Eventually, according to all popular entertainment sources, something will go wrong with the application of this virus.

The article states that the virus is only fatal if the ants have some other form of stress. How long do you think it will be before some brilliant researcher suggests using low doses of radiation as a stressor?

And there we have it. Giant rampaging mutant ants and the end of the world as we know it -- All brought to us by our friends at Texas A&M and the Department of Agriculture.

Simple math gives us this equation:

Lab Reproduced Virus A + Non-Native Aggressive Species B + Radiation C = Giant Freaking Killer Ants

Have these researchers never seen a movie produced since the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll? I mean any movie? I think it was a minor sub-plot in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!

So, the question we are left with is how do we defend ourselves? These are giant chitin-armored terrors of suburbia not some spooty giant beavers. Hot soapy water (bane of the non-mutant ant) seems like a joke when the ants in question are forty feet tall and carrying off whole herds of cattle to feed their larval brood. Being caught off guard by giant ants is the quickest way to lose your home and family short of a dog fighting conviction, so remain alert for skittering noises just at the edge of your hearing. Also, listen for your normal background music to become peppered with ominous or discordant notes. Those are a dead give-away.

Upon hearing any of those, immediately drive to the nearest garden supply store and purchase at least a ton of cedar mulch. Insects hate the smell of cedar. This is the tricky part: The cedar mulch is not a weapon. Instead, burrow into the pile of mulch and (if you have time) run in some power and ethernet cables for internet access. These cedar burrows are our new homes for a while.

We can leave in groups to gather food, but for the most part we should hide in them. Eventually, the giant mutant ants will decide to reproduce the flu in some giant ant lab and dose us with radiation, which should reverse things and return the natural order, only none of our pants will fit for a while as a side effect.

I know it seems daunting, but this is all the natural cycle of rampaging mutant life as we currently understand it.



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