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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