posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 08:20pm on 12/05/2009 under
Parasitic flies turn fire ants into zombies
McClatchy Newspapers

By Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-telegram – Tue May 12, 2:09 pm ET

It sounds like something out of science fiction: zombie fire ants. But it's all too real.

Fire ants wander aimlessly away from the mound.

Eventually their heads fall off, and they die.

The strange part is that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service say making "zombies" out of fire ants is a good thing.

"It's a tool — they're not going to completely wipe out the fire ant, but it's a way to control their population," said Scott Ludwig , an integrated pest management specialist with the AgriLife Extension Service in Overton , in East Texas .

The tool is the tiny phorid fly, native to a region of South America where the fire ants in Texas originated. Researchers have learned that there are as many as 23 phorid species along with pathogens that attack fire ants to keep their population and movements under control.

So far, four phorid species have been introduced in Texas .

The flies "dive-bomb" the fire ants and lay eggs. The maggot that hatches inside the ant eats away at the brain, and the ant starts exhibiting what some might say is zombie-like behavior.

"At some point, the ant gets up and starts wandering," said Rob Plowes, a research associate at UT.

The maggot eventually migrates into the ant's head, but Plowes said he "wouldn't use the word 'control' to describe what is happening. There is no brain left in the ant, and the ant just starts wandering aimlessly. This wandering stage goes on for about two weeks."

About a month after the egg is laid, the ant's head falls off and the fly emerges ready to attack any foraging ants away from the mound and lay eggs.

Plowes said fire ants are "very aware" of these tiny flies, and it only takes a few to cause the ants to modify their behavior.

"Just one or two flies can control movement or above-ground activity," Plowes said. "It's kind of like a medieval activity where you're putting a castle under siege."

Researchers began introducing phorid species in Texas in 1999. The first species has traveled all the way from Central and South Texas to the Oklahoma border. This year, UT researchers will add colonies south of the Metroplex at farms and ranches from Stephenville to Overton . It is the fourth species introduced in Texas .

Fire ants cost the Texas economy about $1 billion annually by damaging circuit breakers and other electrical equipment, according to a Texas A&M study. They can also threaten young calves.

Determining whether the phorid flies will work in Texas will take time, perhaps as long as a decade.

"These are very slow acting," Plowes said. "It's more like a cumulative impact measured across a time frame of years. It's not an immediate silver bullet impact."

The flies, which are USDA -approved, do not attack native ants or species and have been introduced in other Gulf Coast states, Plowes said. Despite initial concerns, farmers and ranchers have been willing to let researchers use their property to establish colonies. At the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth in March, Plowes said they found plenty of volunteers.
Mood:: tired
location: me
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 05:20am on 10/05/2009 under ,
Crazy puppy )

And also be on the road in a about 45 minutes. Sleep in my own bed tonight, YAY!
Mood:: sleepy
location: heaidng home
Music:: On the Road Again - Ghoti Hook
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 08:38pm on 07/05/2009 under
Heard this today on NPR.

Star Trek enterprise to market 3 new fragrances
Colognes based on Capt. Kirk, Vulcan Amok Time and red shirt officers

—John Lendman
March 17, 2009

The world of fragrance is about to boldly go where few have ventured before: the Trekosphere.

Hoping to profit from the May 8 release of J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek film, chronicling the beginnings of Capt. James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise, Maryland-based Genki Wear will release three Star Trek-themed scents on April 24.

John McGonigle, president of Genki, said the two men's colognes and one women's perfume will retail for about $30.

Soon, Trekkies will be able to channel their inner Starfleet commander—or inner William Shatner—with "Tiberius," based on Kirk's character. The scent, which carries the tag line "Boldly Go," is described by Genki Wear as having a "warm vanilla, white musk and sandalwood" base.

For those living like the next workday could be their last, there's "Red Shirt." This cologne, with the tag line "Because tomorrow may never come," is in honor of the unnamed Enterprise officers who don't typically survive past the TV show's first scene. It's described as having a "leather and gray musk" aroma.

But it's the "Pon Farr" perfume that may require a double take. That's right, it's for the ladies. Perhaps a great gift for mom for letting you crash in the basement for 50-some-odd years? Maybe not. It actually refers to the Vulcan mating ritual that occurs every seven years. So maybe this one's only for special occasions?

John Tenuto, merchandise editor of, the largest independent Star Trek news site, said fans have responded positively to the fragrances.

But some Trekkies still have doubts.

"I predict incredibly stinky Trek conventions in the near future," one online comment said.

Others simply made fun of the idea: "No Worf scent? You know, peaty, with a hint of lilac."
Mood:: amused
location: Georgia... save me
Music:: Star Trek Rhapsody - Parody of Queen
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 06:31am on 06/05/2009 under ,
From KNBC Los Angeles

Dog Tosses Self Between Attacking Mountain Lion and Master


Updated 9:12 PM PDT, Tue, May 5, 2009
Related Topics: Jim Amormino | Big Cats | Mammals | Nature and the Environment | Wildlife

The 5-year-old shepherd mix named Hoagie underwent a four-hour operation and was expected to survive.

A mountain lion Tuesday mauled a dog fending off an attack on his owner, who was walking with his wife on a trail near the Blue Jay campground in the Cleveland National Forest, authorities said.

A dog is mauled. Despite the attack, the dog is expected to survive after defending its owner from a mountain lion.

A later search for the animal by California Fish and Game wardens and others came up empty, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The black shepherd-mix dog, named Hoagy, was severely injured, but was expected to recover following four hours of surgery at a Riverside County veterinary hospital, Amormino said.

Authorities looked for the cougar, estimated at about 100 pounds, to destroy it because it showed no fear and was trying to attack the man, Amormino said.

"Public safety comes first," Amormino said.

The campground was closed after the attack that took place near the Falcon Crest gate. It was not immediately clear if the search would resume Wednesday and whether the campground would remain closed, Amormino said.

Dog owner William Morse told ABC7 that he, his wife and dog were out for a walk when "out of nowhere a mountain lion just charged us, attacked us, and my dog saved our life, saved me and my wife's life."

Morse and his wife rushed the injured dog to fire station at El Cariso, and from there to the veterinary hospital.

"He just got out of surgery," Morse said. "We got to see him briefly, and he looks like he's going to be OK at this time."

Asked to describe the attack, Morse said the lion "was off to the side."

"I saw him coming in at an angle," Morse said. "He ducked around a restroom. I notice my dog noticed him. At that time he made a charge towards me and my dog met him right there in the middle and saved my life."

The attack was "probably about seven-eight seconds long and it was just a brutal, just a brutal attack," Morse said.

"I'm pretty shooken up still," Morse said. "My dog, Hoagy, is pretty traumatized at this time. And I just don't think I'll ever go back up there to visit the area again, at this time."

Morse said he had visited the area for about 21 years "and I've never ever been attacked."

Morse said he got his dog from an abused animal shelter.

"He's about five years old and just man's best friend," Morse said. "You couldn't ask for a better dog at this time."

While at the animal hospital, Morse said, he got a call from animal advocacy group that will help pay the bill.

"There's going to be a lot of aftercare," he said. "I'm just traumatized. I didn't think he was going to make it. And like I said, I don't think I'll ever re-visit that area again. I'm waiting for the Department of
Fish and Game to meet me and go through the area and they're going to do a little more investigation."

Amormino said that Morse's wife was about 150 yards behind her husband when the mountain lion attacked.
Mood:: awake
Music:: American Girl - The Relatives
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 04:31pm on 29/04/2009 under
Was listening to Comic Geek Speak podcast interviewing Scott Beatty talking mostly about doing the new Buck Rogers comic coming out from Dynamite, when he mentions halfway thru he has been trying sell DC on doing the "definitive Ace the Bat-hound" story.

All I have to say is....

Hell Yes!

Being a bit of a fan of all the goofy 60's DC stuff I would love this. Please DC do his Ace the Bat-Hound story. I mean if Alan Grant can do that awesome Bat-Mite story in Legends of the Dark Knight years ago Scott Beatty can do a great Bat-Hound bit. Please. Please. Please.

Also one of Comic Geek Speak's sponsors is Library Binding which looks like a great place to have comics bound in hardcover and probably re-binding things like your Castle Falkenstein rulebook that all the pages are falling out of.
location: home
Music:: When You Were Mine (Prince) - Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 09:12pm on 26/04/2009 under
Havent we all had a relationship like this....

Music:: Love Me Dead - Ludo
location: going to bed
Mood:: dozing off
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 04:55pm on 20/04/2009 under
Ok for the second time in about 18 months I had a deer hit my car. Sigh. I am fine. Just missed a days work.
Mood:: grumpy
location: home
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 08:30pm on 19/04/2009 under
"I'm not gonna pull a Norm Coleman and take this to the courts."

-- Larry King, on CNN, telling Ashton Kutcher he concedes he lost their Twitter contest.
Mood:: mischievous
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 11:00am on 18/04/2009 under
Dog honoured for tackling burglar

A Labrador who fought to protect its owners from a knife-wielding burglar, has been honoured for his bravery.

Toby was stabbed four times in the chest and legs by the intruder but still managed to chase him out.

The Morton family, from Barnoldswick in Lancashire, had been staying at Leconfield Barracks in East Yorkshire.

They awoke to find their pet in a pool of blood. But the eight-month-old survived and has been awarded by the animal charity, PDSA.

The armed burglar, who attacked Toby with three knives taken from the kitchen, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years for the offence.

Toby suffered a punctured lung in the attack, in June 2007, as he fought to stop the offender going upstairs to the sleeping family.

After succeeding in chasing the offender out of the building Toby then woke his owner, Jonathan Morton, by barking.

“ Had it not been for Toby's determined barking and lunging at the intruder, Mr Morton would not have been aware of the threat to his family. ”
Chris Heaps, PDSA deputy chairman

Mr Morton and his wife Samantha praised their pet's actions.

He said: "Toby is our hero. I dread to think what could have happened if he had not intervened that night."

The Labrador has been presented with the PDSA Certificate for Animal Bravery by the charity's senior deputy chairman Chris Heaps.

He said: "Had it not been for Toby's determined barking and lunging at the intruder, Mr Morton would not have been aware of the threat to his family.

"Toby is indeed a worthy recipient of the PDSA Certificate for Animal Bravery."
location: home
Mood:: pleased
Music:: Dating Batman - Cars Can Be Blue
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 11:43am on 17/04/2009 under
From Chgowiz's Old Guy RPG Blog....

Dear Old School Renaissance/Revival:
There is no spoon.

Kindest regards,

PS. "The most important thing is to play and have fun!" (paraphrased) - Arneson, Gygax, Krebs (and many others)
location: home
Mood:: relaxed


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