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Sharks Eat Bear
Dec 25, 2004

Ain't got half a what you thought you had

Love this thread, thank you GAG.

Are there examples of commensal or symbiotic relationships with other life forms? I know of the famous ant-acacia tree relationship, but it seems like relatively recent research suggests that might not be as mutual as initially thought? https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131106-ants-tree-acacia-food-mutualism/

Non sequitur but one year for Christmas I bought my dad a copy of The Ants by EO Wilson. Itís a massive tome with great color photos throughout, and I really thought he would be surprised and delighted given his hobbyist passion for biology and insects in particular. But he almost winced when he opened it; apparently the passion does not extend to ants. He kept the book but I donít think he ever read it :/

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Sharks Eat Bear
Dec 25, 2004

Ain't got half a what you thought you had

So what's the deal with crazy ants in the US? I just read this article from 2013, which casts the introduction of crazy ants to the US as an impending catastrophe. I'm wondering how much that's been borne out 8 years later, and also just curious about what we know & don't about these ants. Drawn to electricity???

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/08/magazine/crazy-ants.html

I can post the full text if the paywall is an issue

Sharks Eat Bear
Dec 25, 2004

Ain't got half a what you thought you had

Goons Are Great posted:

Crazy ants are super special. [snip]

Wow, fascinating! Thanks. It sounds like the article is actually about a different species of crazy ant, the Nylanderia fulva aka Rasberry crazy ant aka tawny crazy ant. Not sure if the same genetic quirk applies, but also seems like their spread has still been "contained" to the Gulf coast rather than sweeping across the continental US... These are the ones that seem to be attracted to electrical equipment; the article mentions a few instances of people only discovering they have infestations after an appliance short circuits and when they go to suss it out, they find a mass of ants.

This might be a dumb Q - but why would it have taken this long for crazy ants to spread so far, given their ability to out-compete other species? I get that global trade & climate change are massive drivers of invasive species, but it seems like crazy ants are so successful that they should have been able to invade even without human intervention.

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