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No. 68: Mar-Apr 1990

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Ants Like Amps

Those pesky fire ants that plague man and beast alike in the southern states have a curious weakness: they dote on electrical equipment. They don't eat it; they just "like" it! Why, nobody knows. They invade a wide variety of outdoor electrical devices: airport runway lights, stoplight control boxes, household electrical meters, etc. In particular, they favor relays, where they congregate in masses, interfering with current flow and damaging circuitry.

The phenomenon is made stranger by the fire ants' complete abandonment of their usual search for food and water (and ankles). They starve in droves and clog up everything. It's a mothand-candle story.

Searching for the fatal attractor, researchers have already eliminated magnetic fields, vibrations, and ozone emissions. Apparently, the fire ants "see" something we can't and are smitten by it.

(Weiss, Rick; "Ants Get a Transforming Charge," Science News, 136:412, 1989.)

From Science Frontiers #68, MAR-APR 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987