Scientists and Yellow Crazy Ants

Thank heaven for science.  Or thank the enlightened government departments that support it.


Ants infesting a sooty tern chick.

Page 20 of the September issue of Scientific American, in a short feature called “Cleanup on Isle Nine,” mentions a few of the devoted biologists, mostly working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with some volunteers, who strive to repair the environments of uninhabited islands far out in the Pacific, trashed by other phases of humanity.  Specks of land such as Nihoa, to reach which you “must take a 30-hour boat ride, leap ashore from an inflatable dinghy amid violent waves and then scale a cliff.”  From it the scientists have transported little millerbirds to Laysan, to restore the population wiped out there by human-introduced rabbits.  The scientist rescuing Palmyra Atoll from its swarming rats, left by a former military base, “spends half the year there in near-complete isolation.”  Johnston Atoll has recovered from nuclear-weapons testing but is invaded by yellow crazy ants, a species that sprays acid on the seabird chicks it is about to attack.  On Midway, the majestic albatross refuses to leave its nest and so is eaten alive by the human-introduced mice.  Plastic garbage, which entangles birds and marine mammals or gets down their throats, coats the shores of Kure Atoll.

These tragedies, small as they might be considered from some points of view, are being reduced, if not ended.

It may be no coincidence that the “Science Agenda” editorial on page 7 of the same issue is about the “growing anti-science current in American politics,” the “science denialism,” which is reaching a pinnacle of stridency.  If someone becomes President who tweets that global warming is a “Chinese plot,” and intends to defund the Environmental Protection Agency, there may be little future for the saviors of seabird chicks from yellow crazy ants.


9 thoughts on “Scientists and Yellow Crazy Ants”

  1. Hillary said that vaccines are “safe and effective.” Merck prob. told her that.

    Politicians really need to keep their mouths shut on things they don’t know anything about.

    1. Muriel, I guess you never met a person who was crippled by or who died of polio before the vaccine for this disease was widely available. Or someone who was born deaf from congenital rubella syndrome. Or whose liver was destroyed by the Hepatitis B virus. Or who contracted bacterial meningitis. Or a child who died of measles…

      PEOPLE really need to keep their mouths shut on things they don’t know anything about.

      1. And now the name-calling haters come out. AAMOF, I DO know two people who had polio. People STILL get polio except they now call it ‘aseptic meningitis.’ I don’t know anyone who died of measles because I don’t live in a Third World country. I DO know several people injured by the measles vaccine. I, personally, was injured seriously by my adult rubella vaccine.

        I could go on but you have been brainwashed by the popular press. If you really want to learn, I’d start by googling “Who dies from measles.” Bye.

  2. Certainly, all these folks are doing good science. Stories like these are good for science in general. There is a growing mistrust of science and people have reasons to mistrust. Trump has little to do with it. It’s industry and politically influenced science that is at fault – and the science community itself needs to own up and come clean before they can regain people’s trust.

    It’s stories like this one from NPR that damage good science’s reputation:

    1. It’s worse than you know. It started even before Congress made the FDA “charge” drug companies for the cost of their safety trials. As Congress cut funding for universities and NSF, etc. , the researchers had to make up their shortfalls by soliciting funding from corporations who were the only people left with money. Hershey paid for research touting the benefits of chocolate. Fat became the bad guy- sugar innocent, thanks to Harvard payoffs, and we began to see products like “fat free jelly beans.” CDC and the FDA are ‘for profit’ now.

      Basically, you should be suspicious of any research done past 1980, not coincidentally, the time that aspartame was introduced!

  3. More power to these brave and energetic scientists and their co-workers, and to you for letting us know.

    We have no home other than this planet and every part and inhabitant, however tiny and voiceless, is linked to every other.

    Let’s hope that insane candidate will be shown the door and that we can stop or – more realistically – slow the destruction of our own nest that is the habit of no other species but ours.

  4. It’s about time to place my order for the 2017 Astronomical Calendar. Ow! I forgot it’s not being published any more. I will miss it from Co er to cover. Such a lovely annual treat.

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