Fire Ants Freak Me Right the Fuck Out

Posted on 22/11/2012 by


I thought I’d start there just so you know where we’re headed. Because now we have to take a detour and talk about horror movies.

Graphic violence and gory horror have never been a problem for me. I don’t really enjoy watching it but once the moment is gone, it’s gone. Creepy horror is different. It doesn’t have to be onscreen. In fact, it’s probably worse for me if it’s not. I have too good an imagination. So my brain gets stuck with the conceptual pain and terror and lifelong consequences. I basically traumatise myself with an idea.

And ideas are… once I’ve had a really horrible thought like that it never really seems to go away. Something like the movie Saw will just get stuck in my head and never, ever leave.

Like the fire ants.

Image of white teapot and mug with a swarm of fire ants being poured as a fluid from one to the other.

“When fire ants are gathered into a group, they act like a fluid, as depicted above in a scene, arranged by the researchers, that could be called either whimsical or the stuff of nightmares.” Nightmares. I vote nightmares.

Let me explain. When I was a kid I never had nightmares from watching scary TV shows and movies. Except once.

I watched this episode of MacGyver. Yes. I know. Not exactly the horror factory. And yet. I would have been somewhere around five years old, which probably helped me overlook any issues with production values or story and focus on the whole army of ants rampaging towards them that can FUCKING CROSS RIVERS and EAT PEOPLE ALIVE.

I found this rather alarming. (Particularly the part where a guy actually gets eaten rather than just threatened. The ants want under his glasses, people. I’m not sure why but that idea makes my skin crawl almost more than the general ‘being eaten alive’ thing. Bugs should not be allowed under people’s glasses. That’s just wrong.)

Now I know that the ones in the MacGyver episode were actually soldier ants with their marching off to war philosophy, but fire ants are worse. They’re invasive and if you’re really unlucky their sting can kill you.

And while I admit that my own reasons for disliking them are a bit abstract, you read something like, “In the US the FDA estimates that more than US$5 billion is spent annually on medical treatment, damage, and control in RIFA-infested areas” and you have to think that it’s possible my alarm is not entirely unwarranted.

So I wasn’t exactly thrilled that the universe thought my regular RSS feeds needed to be populated with pictures of them this week. Not least because at least one of those links was talking about researchers deliberately trying to drown them and I unwillingly began to think in defence of the ants. That’s not cool.

So consider this a public service announcement. Fire ants: fear. Soldiers ants: run. Researchers: be nervous.


Posted in: Kandace, Research