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May 16, 2008

Well Alrighty Then

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again


This is how the world ends:

In what sounds like a really low-budget horror film, voracious swarming ants that apparently arrived in Texas aboard a cargo ship are invading homes and yards across the Houston area, shorting out electrical boxes and messing up computers.

The hairy, reddish-brown creatures are known as "crazy rasberry ants" - crazy, because they wander erratically instead of marching in regimented lines, and "rasberry" after Tom Rasberry, an exterminator who did battle against them early on.

"They're itty-bitty things about the size of fleas, and they're just running everywhere," said Patsy Morphew of Pearland, who is constantly sweeping them off her patio and scooping them out of her pool by the cupful. "There's just thousands and thousands of them. If you've seen a car racing, that's how they are. They're going fast, fast, fast. They're crazy."

...Exterminators say calls from frustrated homeowners and businesses are increasing because the ants - which are starting to emerge by the billions with the onset of the warm, humid season - appear to be resistant to over-the-counter ant killers.

"The population built up so high that typical ant controls simply did no good," said Jason Meyers, an A&M doctoral student who is writing his dissertation on the one-eighth-inch-long ant.

It's not enough just to kill the queen. Experts say each colony has multiple queens that have to be taken out.

At the same time, the ants aren't taking the bait usually left out in traps, according to exterminators, who want the Environmental Protection Agency to loosen restrictions on the use of more powerful pesticides.

And when you do kill these ants, the survivors turn it to their advantage: They pile up the dead, sometimes using them as a bridge to cross safely over surfaces treated with pesticide.

"It looked like someone had come along and poured coffee granules all around the perimeter of the rooms," said Lisa Calhoun, who paid exterminators $1,200 to treat an infestation of her parents' home in the Houston suburb of Pearland.

The Texas Department of Agriculture is working with A&M researchers and the EPA on how to stop the ants.

"This one seems to be like lava flowing and filling an entire area, getting bigger and bigger," said Ron Harrison, director of training for the big pest-control company Orkin Inc.

And the really criminal thing about this is that if all our ace exterminators weren't off fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, we could move them to Houston to conduct negotiations meet this existential threat to our national security.

America sure could use some real leadership right about now.

Posted by Cassandra at May 16, 2008 06:32 AM

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Pile On?


Enough said.

Carry on.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at May 16, 2008 08:46 AM

Hot and Humid in Texas? I was there last year and sweated profusely from the time I got off the plane till the time I got back on the plane.

"A Texan dies and goes to hell. While down there the devil notices that the Texan is not suffering like the rest He checks the gauges and sees that it's 100 degrees and about 80% humidity. So he goes over to the Texan and asks why he's so happy. The Texan says, "I really like it here. The temperature is just like Dallas in June."

The devil isn't happy with the Texan's answer and decides to fix him, so he goes over and turns up the thermostat to 120 degrees and the humidity to 90%. After turning everything up he goes looking for the Texan. He finds him standing around unbuttoning his shirt, just as happy as can be. The devil quizzes the Texan again as to why he's so happy. The Texan says, "This is even better. It's like Houston in July."

The devil, now really upset, decides to make the Texan really understand that hell is no paradise. He walks over to the controls and turns the heat up to 140 degrees and the humidity to 100%. "Now let's see what the Texan is up to," he thinks. So he goes looking for the Texan. The devil finds the Texan taking his shirt off basking in the heat, even happier than before. The devil can't figure it out. He asks the Texan why he's happy now. The Texan replies, "This is great, it's just like Brownsville in August."

The devil says, "That's it, I'll get this guy." He walks over and turns the temperature down to a freezing 25 degrees below zero. "Now let's see what the Texan has to say about this," the devil thinks to himself. He looks around and finds the Texan jumping up and down for joy. "What are you so happy about now," asks the devil. Still excited, the Texan replies, "The Rangers have finally won the World Series!"

Posted by: Dr. Harden Stuhl at May 16, 2008 09:40 AM

Heh :)

I hadn't heard that one Harden, but it's a keeper. Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 16, 2008 10:05 AM

Posted by: Dr. Strangelove at May 16, 2008 11:13 AM

We're being invaded by Monster Ants? Can Mothra be far behind?

Who could save us from such monstrosities?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 16, 2008 11:47 AM

OK, OK, I saw that movie about 20 years ago. Just another Hollywood stunt.

On the other hand, maybe the Killer Bees will attack the Crazy Ants.

Posted by: ZZMike at May 16, 2008 12:36 PM

Personally I'm rooting for the Killer Tomatoes.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 16, 2008 12:53 PM

A little marching music to welcome our new undocumented ants who are, after all, just doin' the job our domestic ants will not do. =8^}

Posted by: bthun at May 16, 2008 01:11 PM

Killer Bees v/s Crazy Ants? Helk, it can't do worse than Redacted.

Posted by: Hollywood Producer Who Is Out of Ideas at May 16, 2008 01:25 PM

This calls for some holy intervention.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 16, 2008 01:29 PM

Ahhh, you jus had ta bring up killa rabbits didn't ya?

I've requiahd yeah's of thapee' to resolve mah own issues with those beasts... Now I'm gonna hafta ask Rosln to leave the lights on tonight.

Thanks, jus thanks.

Posted by: JC at May 16, 2008 02:10 PM

Crazy Ants? I thought it was "Crazy Aunts" and you were talking about the so-called Red Hat Ladies.

I need to read slower.

Posted by: vet66 at May 16, 2008 03:27 PM

I am sure there is a really good organic control measure these simple minded Texans have not considered.

Crap. That is too close to home to joke. I wonder what the local authorities would think if a chemistry teachers entire yard was a scorched earth dead zone?

Posted by: Pile On at May 16, 2008 06:18 PM

They missed the wedding. I understand chili powder repels them. So does Britney Spears.

Posted by: Mean cricket at May 16, 2008 08:53 PM

Got dinky little ants? Get a dinky little anteater.

Cyclopes didactylus, aka pygmy anteater.

Posted by: BillT at May 17, 2008 10:08 AM

Why can't they just flood the ant nests underground?

Put something down there that'll kill ants, like radioactive h20.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 18, 2008 01:00 PM

This invasion of ants seems familiar to me... oh yeah, like FIRE ANTS... they were traced ti a load of lumber from South America, delivered by ship to New Orleans... yet another gift from our southern neighbors.

Posted by: Scott at May 18, 2008 01:52 PM

Well like the Islamic jihad, when new fertile organisms get onto old and decadent terrain, new fertile people crowd out the competition.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 18, 2008 06:44 PM

Have they considered STOMPING on them? Last I heard, they weren't immune to that.

Boric acid mixed with sugar works; it will strip the exo-skeleton of the waxy coating that protects them from dehydration. They will die like flies.

Pardon the simile.

Posted by: Cricket at May 19, 2008 08:05 AM