Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fire Ants

A couple of stories have apperared in the press about the Fire Ant problem in the U.S. But it turns out that a pest is sometimes not such a pest.

Florida State researcher defends fire ants

A stinging defeat in war on fire ants
Brazilian insects are part of life in South — despite our protests, poisons

Despite the war on the fire ants farmers in the Southern U.S. are now regreting their absence as climate change has killed off many fire ants this year.

Some Texas farmers long for fire ants' return

Entomology professor Bart Drees had just wrapped up his standard lecture to cattlemen on how to get rid of the much-despised fire ant when a rancher approached him with a question.

"What I really want to know is, 'How do we bring 'em back?'"

A decade-long series of droughts haven't just wreaked havoc on Texas agriculture, they have also suppressed populations of the moisture-loving fire ants that have become a scourge to homeowners, landscapers, farmers and ranchers across the South. That might sound like a good thing, and, on balance, it is. But there is something to be said for the bug-chomping fire ant. It can help control other pests, including cattle-plaguing ticks, and the drought is helping to drive that home.


And as usual as alien species are added to the environment problems occur. The fire ant being a major bug predator it turns out to have a silver lining to their invasion of the Southern U.S. despite being a threat to humans.

It's a bug-eat-bug world
Invertebrate invasion threatens uneasy truce between man and insects

Tick Patrol
New York Times, United States - 26 Jun 2006
... the fire ant, emerged as the unlikely friend of ranchers in Texas, virtually eliminating the tick problem in some areas until the fire ants themselves were ...

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