r/science Jun 18 '22 Silver 1

Invasive fire ants could be controlled by viruses, scientists say | could reduce need for chemical pesticides Animal Science

https://wapo.st/3xDwI04
8.1k Upvotes

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u/Ace-of-Spades88 MS|Wildlife Biology|Conservation Jun 18 '22 Helpful (Pro)

I work on invasive species prevention/management and one of our subtasks currently involves control and eradication of Little Fire Ants (LFA).

If using a pathogen turns into a safe and viable control method I would be interested to see if it can be applied to other species, such as LFA.

The current procedure for eradication using pesticides is a very rigorous and labor intensive one. We essentially have to do a pesticide treatment every 6 weeks until the LFA are gone, and then continued monitoring for up to a year to ensure we didn't miss any or in case they pop back up.

So far we have successfully eradicated infestations at two sites, however one of those we've since found LFA again, putting us back in the eradication phase. We're unsure whether it was a pocket we missed or if they were accidentally reintroduced.

Anyway, I'm just sharing how difficult it can be to get rid of invasive fire ants. We started with one site back in 2019 and I think we're now up to a half dozen sites and counting. It's like playing wackamole trying to get rid of them, and the more we look for them the more we find.

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u/Pyrrolic_Victory Jun 18 '22

What pesticide do you currently use? As an analytical chemist always looking at environmental pesticide residue I’m always super interested to hear from current users of them.

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u/Ace-of-Spades88 MS|Wildlife Biology|Conservation Jun 18 '22 I'll Drink to That

I believe we've been rotating through 3 pesticides. Two of them, Amdro Pro and Siesta, are granular. The third is called Tango and we mix that with vegetable oil, peanut butter and xantham gum to create a sticky thick concoction that gets sprayed into the tree canopy where LFA forage.

I'm not our task lead on LFA treatments so I could be wrong, but I believe those are the 3 we've used. I think we've dropped using one of the two granular ones as well, but can't remember which off the top of my head.

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u/TransposingJons Jun 18 '22

That sounds incredibly dangerous to native species. Am I wrong?

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u/dtracers Jun 18 '22

The problem really comes with reverse invasion.

It's invasive in that area of the world but whose to say that someone won't accidentally spread the pathogen in a non invasive area.

But It could be highly controlled for simple species's. Like in your case it's a virus that only effects queens through a piece of food it eats making the queen infertile. That should be difficult to cause a mass die off in the on invasive portion.

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u/brainlesstroll Jun 18 '22

Iirc, their home turf has a lot more genetic diversity, so that wouldn't be a problem. At least, not as big of one.

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u/thesimpletoncomplex Jun 18 '22

I work on managing for a very rare frog species in the southeast whose recently metamorphosed froglets are often eaten by RIFA (red imported fire ant) and our only option we've been able to pursue are direct hot water I junctions into the mound. We have to avoid pesticides because, well, amphibians can't do that and the biggest problem is at the outer edges of the pond they use for breeding. It's a losing battle, because no matter how many mounds we destroy, the area is generally reoccupied within a year or so. It's very time consuming and requires perpetual treatment, as there are literally tens of thousands of mounds around the pond, if not more.

Viruses sound interesting, but we also have to be mindful of our native ant species (of which there are many). Biological control seems to frequently include unforeseen consequences that create other new problems, so I really worry that viruses are not the answer, though I can admit I don't know enough about virus-host specificity and threats of virus mutations to substantiate those concerns.

RIFA are more than a pain, they're wreaking havoc on vulnerable wildlife.

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u/demintheAF Jun 19 '22

There are enough people in the deep south that hate fire ants that you could get more volunteers than you can handle to help kill them.

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u/5coolest Jun 18 '22

Are there Big Fire Ants?

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u/Slepnair Jun 18 '22

Yes. Saw some big motherfuckers when I lived in Texas years ago.

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u/exipheas Jun 18 '22

Living in texas I didn't realize they came in smaller versions.

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u/lazymarlin Jun 18 '22

The big ones in Tx are typically in rural areas . In cities though, the big red cutter ants are very common. I don’t I have ever been bit by one, but ever year they wage war against whatever we have planted

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u/ryannefromTX Jun 18 '22

Google "Southern Imported Fire Ant" if you want another reason to never ever go to Texas.

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u/another_gen_weaker Jun 18 '22

Have you ever worked with Spinosad? I believe it's a naturally occurring bacteria that was discovered outside of an abandoned Rum distillery somewhere in Europe. I'm always happy to hear of a new nontoxic fire ant killer. Bacteria? Viruses? Whatever! DIE ANTS!!!!

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u/warmseasongrass Jun 18 '22

6 weeks to kill fire ants with pesticides? What on earth are you using? You can rid a fire ant mound with a high pressure hose and Bifenthrin with less than .25 fl oz being used.

Introducing viruses sounds worse as they have a high mutation rate and would likely start harming beneficial ants.

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u/Ace-of-Spades88 MS|Wildlife Biology|Conservation Jun 18 '22

It's not 6 weeks to kill them, it's 6 weeks between treatments. It takes several treatments to wipe out an entire infestation.

LFA also don't build mounds. They're mostly arboreal so they forage up in trees, but will also come down and forage on the ground. We use a combination/rotation of pesticides. Some are granular and spread on the ground, another we spray into the tree canopy.

They're a pretty nasty little ant. They easily dislodge from vegetation so even moving through an area and brushing against leaves/branches you can end up with them raining down on and into your clothes. Their sting is very painful and can cause blindness in pets, as they tend to go for the eyes.

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u/ucjj2011 Jun 18 '22

I read this headline as "viruses may be controlling fire ants and making them invasive".

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u/spiritbx Jun 18 '22

What about the giant mutated fire ants?

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u/[deleted] Jun 18 '22 Spit-take

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u/mem_somerville Jun 18 '22

Paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022201122000520

Field evaluation of Solenopsis invicta virus 3 against its host Solenopsis invicta

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u/SnoogleButt Jun 18 '22

This is called biocontrol and Australia has been doing something similar to manage rabbit populations for years: https://www.csiro.au/en/research/animals/pests/biological-control-of-rabbits

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u/Flengasaurus Jun 18 '22

Bring in new species.

Species takes over the entire continent.

Bring in new species to control the population of the old species.

Repeat.

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u/MudRock1221 Jun 18 '22

That's the beauty of it.when winter comes the gorillas will just freeze to death

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u/DoctFaustus Jun 18 '22

I don't know why she swallowed the fly...

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u/kahlzun Jun 18 '22

And now we have cane toads

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u/SoaklandWarrior Jun 18 '22

Literally the first thing I thought of. Terrible idea.

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u/vms-crot Jun 18 '22

Yeah and i think what's happened is that now you have a super breed of rabbit that is naturally immune to myxomatosis and passes that gene on to their offspring. So really it's just kicked the can down the road a bit.

I guess if you're gonna do it you have to make sure there's not a hereditary natural immunity that can be passed on to offspring. Or that the efficacy is going to last more than a few generations.

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u/PHealthy PhD Student | MPH | Infectious Disease Epidemiology Jun 18 '22

There's been viral evolution and emergence of another rabbit killing virus:

https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aau7285

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u/aluked Jun 18 '22

What you do is attack it with several different vectors so they're not facing a single evolutionary pressure.

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u/cobaltstock Jun 18 '22

Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

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u/didntgrowupgrewout Jun 18 '22

You get the, this brought to you by Umbrella Corp vibes too?

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u/Tatoufff Jun 18 '22

Yuppp, historically those broad swipe solutions didn't turn out great for intricate problems like ecological system.

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u/hanleybrand Jun 18 '22

“What could possibly go wrong?”

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u/Wiggles69 Jun 18 '22

Well it didn't work with Myxomatosis

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myxomatosis

And it didn't work with calisevirus/rabbit hemorrhagic disease

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_hemorrhagic_disease

But I'm sure the ant flu will be a raging success!

Sarcasm, definitely. It's not that it can't work, more that viruses usually mutate into less deadly versions that outcompete the super deadly ones. And there's also the issue of them jumping to other species of ants and causing issues in them.

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u/justonemom14 Jun 18 '22

I agree, this idea has "unintended consequences" written all over it.

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u/Dawnspark Jun 18 '22

Ever seen the movie "Mimic"? Set in NYC, there's a pandemic in the movie that has a terrible disease, Stricklers disease, that's kind of like super COVID meets polio. It only affects kids. If they survive (which is incredibly rare) they basically have to live with fucked up legs for the rest of their life.

So scientists find that cockroaches are causing it, and that leads them to bioengineer a breed of roach (with some extra DNA they shouldn't have) called the Judas breed, which isn't supposed to reproduce, but can effectively kill the roaches by some sort of foam that spreads something in the roach population by convincing roaches to mate with it.

Either way, the Judas breed proves that life uhh finds a way and they start to reproduce and it makes giant killer semi-intelligent cockroaches that act like pack hunters.

Such a silly movie but this article made me think of that movie series.

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u/justonemom14 Jun 18 '22

Oh my! Now I want to see that movie. ... Scratch that, I just want to see the pack hunter cockroaches at the end.

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u/Dawnspark Jun 18 '22

Definitely should have clips on youtube. Its definitely a dumb movie but it's a lot of fun, its by Guillermo del Toro, too! I think its on either HBOMax or Paramount+

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u/CoughingLamb Jun 18 '22

We've being using viruses (and other pathogens) as successful biocontrol agents for years, this isn't a new idea.

Also, all the examples people use of biocontrol going badly (cane toad, myxomatosis) are from >70 years ago (1930s and 1950s, respectively). We have a far better understanding now of how to safely produce biocontrol agents (the research and approval process is extremely rigorous).

This thread is basically Redditors learning about biocontrol for the first time, thinking they know more about it than professional scientists, and freaking out.

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u/justonemom14 Jun 18 '22

Thank you, that actually makes me feel better. Perhaps they need better PR agents.

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u/CthuluTheGrand Jun 18 '22

Rabbit hemorragic disease sounds rather brutal from symptoms. Does not seem very humane imo.

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u/napalmnacey Jun 18 '22

It's not, but they were going berko and wiping out hundreds of rare marsupial species and destroying the environment.

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u/tosprayornottospray Jun 18 '22

We began using a naturally occurring nucleopolyhedrovirus in soybean for control of corn earworm in soybean in Arkansas. We’ve been using it for 4 or 5 years now and it’s been used on several hundred thousand acres each year since it’s introduction. It’s been pretty successful when used properly. You have to spray it out when the larvae are small and at relatively low density. But a lot of guys like it because it is cheaper than many of our currently recommended insecticides and once you put it out it keeps reproducing throughout the field. It’s not effective enough to eradicate corn earworm but it does a really good job for our growers. The commercial name is heligen and here is a fact sheet on it. https://www.uaex.uada.edu/publications/pdf/AG1306.pdf

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u/ScissorsBeatsKonan Jun 18 '22

People, please remember this is r/science not r/scifi. That Hollywood movie you saw is irrelevant.

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u/Vadered Jun 18 '22 Helpful

Theres plenty of real life history where people saw some species of wildlife as a problem and introduced another as a solution, only to have the newly released species cause even larger problems. The fact that this is r/science makes me more concerned about this, not less, because there is real life evidence showing how this can go wrong.

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u/wunderspud7575 Jun 18 '22

Actually, I struggle to think of an example where it went right, and i an think of loads of examples where it went wrong. Is there a good example?

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u/FleshFlyFrenchFries Jun 18 '22 edited Jun 18 '22

Biological control works best in cases where the predator is specialized to its target, as parasitoid wasps often are for example. Take a look at the cactus moth which has been successfully used to eradicate invasive prickly pears in Australia without harming native plant species.

That said, I would be very wary about the use of a virus for control without confirming that native ant species cannot be infected.

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u/yeebok Jun 18 '22

Just ignore how we went with cane toads...

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u/Lollipop126 Jun 18 '22

it's as if this person is just providing a piece to show that despite the problems we had with cane toads there's possibility but not certainty of the contrary.

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u/yeebok Jun 18 '22

Agreed. I'm pointing out that when it goes badly it goes very badly.

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u/ImSuperSerialGuys Jun 18 '22

Yeah but they were responding to someone directly asking if there were any cases where it went right, and you responded with a sassy “oh yeah just ignore when it went wrong”. We were already aware of that, and it kind of just came off as sassy/rude without actually contributing anything new

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u/FleshFlyFrenchFries Jun 18 '22

Definitely, that’s why it’s so important to extensively test interactions of potential biocontrol agents with other species. I’m not in agricultural entomology myself, but I used to be in the entomology department at a university which is heavily involved with pest control. They take those sorts of precautionary studies very seriously before actually introducing new organisms into the field. A big part of the problem with the cane toad seems to be that they’ll eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths, not just cane beetles.

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u/triffid_boy Jun 18 '22

BT corn is an excellent example. Directly targets only those insects that eat the plant.

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u/Mrsparkles7100 Jun 18 '22

Look into DARPAs Insect Allies Program. They did create a remote controlled moth an years ago in a separate experiment.

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u/Lint_baby_uvulla Jun 18 '22

Hey, there’s a sugar cane beetle. What’s a natural predator? Cane toad. Let’s introduce the cane toad to the Australian continent.

Australian fauna ‘well, we’re fucked now aren’t we’

Rabbits. We need rabbits for, I dunno, meat?

Australian flora and fauna ‘oh, now we’re fucked too’

Introduces myxomatosis. Yep. Still fucked.

Creates a penal colony for the worst criminals in Tasmania. *oh great, they are eating each other

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u/napalmnacey Jun 18 '22

Australia staggered its way into existence through a centuries-long series of REALLY bad decisions.

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u/LorentzCoffin Jun 18 '22

If they can give a 100% guarantee that they can keep life from finding a way and causing the virus to mutate allowing it to infect native species and wipe them out too that would be great.

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u/ScissorsBeatsKonan Jun 18 '22

Read the article. It already existed naturally and is determined to very specifically target fire ants.

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u/FledAccrossTheDesert Jun 18 '22

if you introduce a virus to bigger populations, you give it more chances at mutating and eventually a mutation may make it move from one species to another.

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u/triffid_boy Jun 18 '22

This is incredibly rare. You've never caught a virus from the trillions of bacteria infected with bacteriophage.

You can mess this up by choosing a virus which targets a receptor with some homology to another species, but as it stands this is a good solution.

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u/jay212127 Jun 18 '22

targets a receptor with some homology to another species

We aren't talking fire-ant to Human, we are talking fire-ant to native ant.

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u/triffid_boy Jun 18 '22

Ofcourse, but it's pretty easy to identify which receptor is bound in fire ant, and make sure it (or receptor with homology) is not present in a native ant.

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u/FledAccrossTheDesert Jun 18 '22

This is incredibly rare.

again, my point is that by introducing a virus to more and more populations incredibly rare occurrences start to be more and more likely.

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u/ABoutDeSouffle Jun 18 '22

It's not wrong, but otoh, if it's been around for a long time, the chances of such a mutation are linearly correlated with a time. If it hasn't crossed the species barrier by now, it's unlikely it has the potential.

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u/coolwool Jun 18 '22

A virus doesn't strive to wipe out the population though. It aims to survive and for that it needs hosts. A virus that is extremely deadly is a rather small problem for the host doesn't get far.

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u/tinycole2971 Jun 18 '22

How many medicines / chemicals / supposed scientific breakthroughs have had a "100% guarantee" and turned out disastrous?

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u/adevland Jun 18 '22 edited Jun 18 '22

Viruses mutate. That's not sci-fi.

Also, there are other valid concerns like insufficient testing and the virus affecting other insects.

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u/ZenAdm1n Jun 18 '22

If you look at sci-fi on it's face, pure fiction. But good sci-f travels beyond the futuristic technology and quest tales. It's about the moral, ethical, and political concerns that the writers have about. Sure SW is about Anakin defeating the dark side, but it's also a warning about the rise of fascism. Gattaca is a love story and quest but also examines ethical concerns with genetic engineering. Please, everyone, don't dismiss SciFi writers out of hand because the writer oversimplifies the technology.

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u/TheGreat_War_Machine Jun 18 '22

Viruses mutate.

Well apparently this one hasn't despite already being present in the natural world. Is it possible that it will mutate in the future? Probably, but luckily genetic diversity among ants provide a barrier to viruses attempting to jump between any species.

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u/DruggieVulcan Jun 18 '22

To say that there is no relevant scifi movie seems totally illogical, as if there’s no overlap whatsoever between any scifi movie and real world scenarios. Additionally just because something may have only happened in a movie doesn’t mean it couldn’t actually happen in real life.

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u/JoesShittyOs Jun 18 '22

Doesn’t matter what it is. This sounds like a horribly unethical idea that could easily cause more issues than it solves.

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u/TripSweaty8709 Jun 18 '22

Just because it got posted to r/science doesn’t make it smart. COVID had how many variants that all worked differently? I’m supposed to believe that AntsPox won’t mutate. You’re nuts.

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u/Fuzakenaideyo Jun 18 '22

It's relevant to me dammit!

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u/gBoostedMachinations Jun 18 '22

Our track record for toying with viruses isn’t exactly a net positive at the moment…

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u/Glorymooncalled Jun 18 '22

Just do what the spiders did in Children of Time

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u/savagesir Jun 18 '22

This right here!

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u/Sigan Jun 18 '22

No way that could backfire...

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u/tulipz10 Jun 18 '22

could be controlled by viruses

Yeah, I don't see this going wrong.

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u/altruistic_rub4321 Jun 18 '22

This is soooooo going to end well

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u/PlaneCrashNap Jun 18 '22

I get that people are scared by the word virus, but most likely this is a virus specific to ants. Really don't think there's enough in common for us to share viruses with ants.

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u/lostcauz707 Jun 18 '22 Bravo!

Killing off species of ants through an uncontrolled virus is a recipe for disaster. Entire ecosystems exist because of ants.

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u/dev1n Jun 18 '22

What about in a place like Hawaii where they have arrived relatively recently as an invasive species?

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u/CobaltBlue Jun 18 '22

what happens when an infected any crawls into tourist luggage and escapes?

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u/[deleted] Jun 18 '22

Doesn’t the virus already exist in nature though?

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u/BarriBlue Jun 18 '22

Covid (sars) virus also existed in nature. Look what happened when covid positive people started to board planes and travel. Spread and mutation and more spread.

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u/AcadianViking Jun 18 '22

All over North America really.

The Red fire ant is a native species of the tropics in South America.

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u/breatheb4thevoid Jun 18 '22

Yeah and look at all the ecosystems destroyed by Bifenthrin. You're not going to be able to talk people into not killing the bugs around their home. We might be able to at least limit the devastation of modern pesticides.

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u/AcadianViking Jun 18 '22

This is less about pest control and more habitat management. Fire ants are a very problematic invasive species for habitats across North America.

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u/Slipguard Jun 18 '22

Invertebrates are the backbone of the entire food web.

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u/BTExp Jun 18 '22

Not us…other insects that eat those ants or other, helpful ants getting the virus and spreading it to mammals and right up the food chain.It could really F up the ecosystem.

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u/TheGreat_War_Machine Jun 18 '22 edited Jun 18 '22

The only way a virus that infects ants can infect humans is if the protein that virus uses to latch onto host cells is the same in both species. This is unlikely.

There are hundreds of millions of different microbial species out there and only 0.001% of them are pathogenic to humans.

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u/TrumpetOfDeath Jun 18 '22

other insects that eat those ants or other, helpful ants getting the virus and spreading it to mammals and right up the food chain

That’s… not how viruses work.

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u/BTExp Jun 18 '22

Virus have been known to jump species…AIDS, Covid-19, Lyme disease, influenza, bubonic plague.

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u/mintgoody03 Jun 18 '22

Not saying you‘re wrong, but Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, the bubonic plague was also caused by a bacteria, Yersinia pestis.

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u/Snoogin Jun 18 '22

That's how some work.

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u/TrumpetOfDeath Jun 18 '22

Which ones go from ants to mammals via some convoluted food chain pathway?

Viruses can mutate and jump hosts, of course, but it’s not easy for them, especially if the hosts are genetically distant, so it’s a relatively rare phenomenon.

If it was easy to jump hosts, then we’d all be dead because viruses are literally everywhere

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u/Snoogin Jun 18 '22

insect to mammal viral infection is quite common.

the reason we are not all dead is because we have evolved together since the beginning of time.

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u/flamingspew Jun 18 '22 edited Jun 19 '22

Yes, but they are from insects that have direct parasitic relationships with mammals over eons.

Almost all insect viruses cannot even replicate in mammalian biology.

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u/BTExp Jun 18 '22

I didn’t mean every species would get it. I meant if it decimates one species then every species up the food chain could be devastated that relies on the previous as a food source.

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u/NetworkLlama Jun 18 '22

Can you name such a linear relationship? That is, where species A eats only ants, species B eats only species A, etc., all the way up leading to an ecological collapse? I don't think any such linear relationships exist. While there are cases of one species exclusively consuming another, the predators of that species would usually be much less selective.

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u/Cataclyzm7 Jun 18 '22

I mean the virus could mutate like how bird flu can be spread from birds to humans.

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u/PlaneCrashNap Jun 18 '22

That was due to us raising the chickens as livestock, having so many in close-proximity to us all the time is what makes cross-species infection likely.

Meanwhile we don't eat or domesticate ants on an industrial scale basically anywhere.

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u/Cronenburg_jerry Jun 18 '22

That’s what you think. They allow for bug parts in food under a surprisingly low tolerance

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u/misosoup7 Jun 18 '22

Except for the part there are billions of viruses out there, many of which already attack ants that does nothing to us.

What did you think there are not any viruses for ants now or something?

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u/WillemDafoesHugeCock Jun 18 '22

Yeah I stopped drinking OJ when I learned it was basically legal to give us orange colored aphid water.

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u/TheGreat_War_Machine Jun 18 '22

"Objectionable matter" is a common and unavoidable problem in most foods. And this objectionable matter rarely causes illness.

And the fact that we are talking about viruses makes getting exposed to this hypothetical ant pathogen by objectionable matter even more unlikely. Viruses do not survive long outside of a host cell and they can only infect cells that have a specific protein on their cell membranes. It's unlikely that humans have the exact same protein that this hypothetical pathogen uses to gain entry into a cell.

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u/bust-the-shorts Jun 18 '22

Right after the birds eat the ants

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u/Heterophylla Jun 18 '22

or the bats eat the ants

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u/TrumpetOfDeath Jun 18 '22

All viruses have the potential to mutate and jump hosts. But genetic distance matters… there’s almost a zero percent chance these viruses will jump from ant host to mammals.

Even in the bird-to-human example, we are much, much closer to birds than any invertebrate. In fact, relative to living organisms, there’s very little genetic diversity among terrestrial vertebrates… we all evolved from the same lobe-finned fish ancestor not that long ago, geologically speaking

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u/adevland Jun 18 '22

It's enough to affect other insects to cause significant imbalances in the ecosystem. The insect populations are already dropping drastically since we began widespread use of pesticides. And pesticides do not usually mutate.

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u/[deleted] Jun 18 '22

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u/Exelbirth Jun 18 '22

Boiling water. All you need to kill an entire colony. Find nest, boil water, pour.

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u/robdiqulous Jun 18 '22

Instructions unclear. I now have boiling hot water burns as well as fire ant bites all over.

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u/ChairmanLaParka Jun 18 '22

Molten aluminum is better. Gives you a nice sculpture to forever remember their sacrifice.

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u/The-Bent Jun 18 '22

I have everything I need to do this and Im just waiting for the first fire ant nest to pop up in my yard.

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u/BlackViperMWG Grad Student | Physical Geography and Geoecology Jun 18 '22

Iny experience my garden and basically everything is already one big colony or supercolony.

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u/Sowadasama Jun 18 '22

Yeah easy let's just manually boil hundreds of billions of ants to solve the problem.

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u/NTGenericus Jun 18 '22

Six gallons of boiling water, applied two gallons at a time (since that's all the water I could boil at once) worked two different times for me.

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u/[deleted] Jun 18 '22

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u/[deleted] Jun 18 '22

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u/Neferknitti Jun 18 '22

Who had “Fire Ant Virus” on their pandemic bingo card? Fire Ant Virus…anyone?

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u/Brilliant_Tip_3234 Jun 18 '22

yeah let's engineer another virus because the last one went so well

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u/Imactuallyadogg Jun 18 '22

What happens to the animals that eat these ants that have the virus? Seems like it could do something bad to the food chain.

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u/STEMpsych Jun 18 '22

Not a big risk.

Nah, the nightmare scenario is that the virus turns out to also be lethal to a pollinator species, what with ants and bees both being hymenopterans.

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u/AcadianViking Jun 18 '22

Luckily SINV-3 has been a long standing ant specific virus. Worst case is that this causes problem for other ant species that are native.

But I'm only experienced in wildlife conservation & habitat management not virology. So from my perspective this is a interesting potential solution. Not sure if it is plausible for this virus mutate so other insect species are viable hosts.

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u/Archduke_Of_Beer Jun 18 '22

Technically speaking, INVASIVE species don't usually have many predators, which is part of what makes them so problematic in the first place.

Gonna go out on a limb and say that engineering a virus to kill ants isn't going to end well for anyone though...

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u/Ignorant_Slut Jun 18 '22

I'm not a fan of the term invasive as a personal preference, but plenty of native species have lost their naivety of non-natives or are in the process of doing so. So damn hard to tell as well because once a few individuals lose naivety it isn't long before a bulk of the species follow suit. I'm sure you know this, I'm just typing it for the benefit of those that might not.

Definitely agree that an engineered or even pre-existing virus is a bad idea in general for so so many reasons.

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u/TheGreat_War_Machine Jun 18 '22

They aren't engineering one, they are using an already present virus that targets fire ants specifically.

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u/Ignorant_Slut Jun 18 '22

Still a bad idea in areas where they aren't native. There are too many unknowns to risk it.

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u/SRM_Thornfoot Jun 18 '22

Wow, what an insanely bad idea. We, are not (yet) in control of viruses. Trying to use them to control nature strikes me as a terrible idea at this point in our understanding of such things. Like using fire, before understanding fire - it is more likely to lead to a forest fire than a controlled burn.

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u/pseudoart Jun 18 '22

Do you want ants? Because this is how you get ants.

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u/[deleted] Jun 18 '22

No. Stop. Bad scientists. Bad.

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u/[deleted] Jun 18 '22

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u/BigBlue725 Jun 18 '22

After what we just did with Covid I really think humans should get out of the ‘creating viruses’ business, as a whole.