PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 January, 2005, 12:00am

The United States, apparently, has been waging gruesome biological warfare in an effort at wholesale extermination - against the feared red fire ants.

Reader Byron Tseng wrote to tell us about some intriguing methods US government scientists have been using to fight the ants, which the Hong Kong government may consider borrowing.

One technique reminds me of the Aliens' method of giving birth in the Sigourney Weaver movies, which makes me feel rather sorry for the ants. This involves a parasitic fly called the phorid fly, which lays eggs in the ant's thorax. When the egg hatches, the larvae feeds on the head until the ant is decapitated (pictured). A single fly can lay eggs in 200 to 300 red fire ants.

A highly contagious and virulent disease has also been released to infect the ovaries of the queen, resulting in 90 per cent fewer eggs.

Once an ant colony's population is destroyed, it is taken over by another colony, which in turn contracts the disease.

All these give me the creeps.


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