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A Mysterious Eye Condition Is Now Known To Be Caused By An Invasive Ant
There are plenty of medical conditions that have been described in literature that have no known cause. One of these mysterious medical conditions is referred to as leukomas or corneal opacities. The condition involves lesions in the cornea that results in a white discoloration in the eye of humans and some animals. The first reported case of leukomas was noted in 1968. The condition was only found in immigrants from the West Indies. However, it turns out that indigenous tribes from Colombia have long known what caused the eye condition. Now Diego Rosselli, Ph.D., of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia and James Wetterer, Ph.D., of Florida Atlantic University have collaborated on a study that revealed the cause of the eye condition. It turns out that their results agreed with the claims made by the indigenous Colombian tribes. The cause of Leukomas was a sting from the Wasmannia auropunctata, or the little red fire ant.
After the eye condition was reported in some people from the West Indies, cats from Florida were found with the same eye problem, and then dogs in Brazil. Initially, medical researchers assumed that the eye lesions were caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Later on it was assumed that a parasite that causes river blindness was to blame for the condition. While doctors were guessing how the eye lesions were caused, the indigenous Colombian tribes knew that a sting from the little red fire ant caused the lesions. This is due to the fact that many tribe members had also developed the condition after being stung by the ant.
The little red fire ant originally dwelled in South and Central America. As human trade progressed around the globe, the little red fire ant made its way into new territories. Eventually the little red fire ant would wind up in Florida, Africa, Israel, the Galapagos Islands, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea. The eye lesions are caused by a toxin created by the ant. The lesions often occur when the ant bites as a result of blinking. When people notice the ant on their eye, they blink, which then causes the ant to sting in defense.
Do you think that indigenous knowledge concerning native insects should be taken more seriously by western doctors?
Fire Ants Are Beneficial To The Environment
It may be hard to believe that such pain-inducing insects, like fire ants, are beneficial to the environment. However, the pain associated with certain insect bites has nothing to do with the advantages that certain biting insects bring to certain ecosystems. You may hate fire ants as a result of personal experience, but, the environment, on the other hand, benefits from these hated insects. Fire ants help maintain the health of the landscape, but they also can be pests themselves. Despite the fact that fire ants can be pests, these ants are spoken of positively on the webpage titled Beneficial’s in the Garden & Landscape.
First of all, fire ants are not native to North America, similar to many North American insect pests. Fire ants actually originated in South America. Secondly, fire ants are not picky eaters, as ticks, termites, cockroaches, chinch bugs, scorpions, fleas and most happily, mosquitoes are all devoured by fire ants. Fire ants also consume mosquito eggs in addition to their larvae.
Fire ants also prevent profit-loss in the agricultural sector of the economy. For example, stinkbugs in soybean crops are kept in check by fire ants. Fireants also either kill or prevent boll weevils from consuming cotton crops. Fire ants also promote the growth of soybeans, cotton, and sugarcane. These crops are better off being infested with fire ants because fire ants aerate crop soil. Without fire ants, and the aeration of crop soil, plants would not receive the amount of nutrients and water that crop plants need in order to grow in a healthy manner.
In addition to killing a multitude of insect pests, some of which were not mentioned in this article, fire ants specifically aerate soil by digging underground tunnels and ant holes. Soon fire ants depart their underground homes, leaving the crop-soil thoroughly aerated. Unfortunately, large fire ant dirt mounds can damage farming equipment. Maybe they are upset for not being paid for their agricultural services.
Have you ever been attacked by fire ants? Did they cause you pain? What did the pain feel like?
Several years back a woman by the name of Janet Wallace Roedl Shiansky was gardening in her backyard when she realized that she was being victimized by an army of ants. The woman, who was sixty eight years old, went into anaphylactic shock, and died shortly afterwards. These ants are known among the public as fire ants, and they are common in the United States.
According to entomologist, Mike Ruapp, most of the time fire-ant bites won’t cause any injuries worse than red welts and a pustule that typically lasts no more than three days. However, Raupp also said that in about five percent of fire ant attacks on humans, the humans end up dying. In most of the cases that do involve a human-death caused by a fire-ant attack, the deaths occurred as a result of a violent allergic reaction, and not so much the fire-ant bites. Raupp has personally seen cases where people’s throats swelled up as a result of an allergic reaction. Naturally, those people soon died, as they could not access oxygen.
The woman that died after sustaining an attack from fire ants had the bugs running into her clothing, mostly her shoe. After she had clearly been bitten several times her husband washed her bite-wounds with ammonia. Sadly her husband discovered her motionless body not too long after the ant-attack. The fire-ant victim’s official cause of death was suffocation as her airways tightened as an allergic response to fire-ant bites.
Fire ants are mainly found throughout the Southeast United States and they often feed on small animals, like kittens. You might find fire ants in other parts of the country, like California, but they do not have any big colonies up north. If you happen to sustain a fire-ant bite/s, then call the doctor if you have any known allergies.
Have you ever been bitten by a group of ants of any kind?
Ants have been resorting to farming for sustenance for fifty million years now. Humans have been farming for ten thousand years, so that should give you some perspective. However, there is one particular species of ant that has only been farming for three million years, and their nest-building methods differ radically from that of other ants, and all insects for that matter.
Philidris nagasau is an interesting species of ant, as it not only farms for sustenance, but these ants are also able to grow their own homes. This type of Fijian ant starts building its home by collecting seeds from plants that serve as temporary shelter. The ants then take the collected seeds and deposit them into the little cracks and crevices located on the bark from trees. The ants then help to nurture the plants by defecating into the hollow stems of the emerging plants. The ants are forced to stand guard duty constantly to stay on the lookout for any herbivores looking to destroy the carefully constructed homes of these ants. The plants eventually grow little compartments that accommodate ants. The plants also excrete nectar constantly, even after pollination.
This type of ant is unique in that its continued existence depends on resources from the plants that the ants create. In fact, this type of Fijian ant has lost the ability to build nests in the same way that other ants build nests. This ant is truly a one of a kind specimen due to its symbiotic existence with the plants.
Are there any other animals that live symbiotically with another organism?