Monday, May 07, 2007

The Enemy of the Enemy is my Friend

SINV-1 is part of MY coalition of the willing:

Researchers have pinpointed a naturally occurring virus that kills [fire ants], which arrived in the U.S. in the 1930s and now cause $6 billion in damage annually nationwide, including about $1.2 billion in Texas.

The virus caught the attention of U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers in Florida in 2002. The agency is now seeking commercial partners to develop the virus into a pesticide to control fire ants.

The virus was found in about 20 percent of fire ant fields, where it appears to cause the slow death of infected colonies.

"Certainly, we are excited about it," said Bob Vander Meer, the leader of the USDA research team in Gainesville, Florida. "I think the virus has great potential. No question about it."

The massive fire ant colonies destroy crops, damage farm and electrical equipment and hasten soil erosion. Humans and livestock are particularly vulnerable to the insect's stinging attacks.

With no natural predators to keep them in check, fire ants have spread across the U.S., where their numbers are now 10 times greater than in their native South America. They thrive in open sunny areas such as cropland, pastures, and urban lawns, and they like moisture.

"Sustained control is what we're trying to achieve," said Steve Valles, an entomologist in the Gainesville research lab. "Eradication is not going to happen."

Fire ants have been detected in 13 states, covering 320 million acres, and are spreading northward. The pest has been found as far north as Virginia and along parts of the California coastline.

In the laboratory, the virus, SINV-1, has proven to be self-sustaining and transmissible. Once introduced, it can eliminate a colony within three months.

Hey, is Valles some sort of John Kerry librul? "Sustained control"??? Ha! You're either with us...or you're with the fire ants, etc. etc. etc.

I'd suggest putting Team Bush in charge of the operation as an appropriate outlet for their screeds/rhetoric, but god knows they'd screw THAT up, too: Bush would claim after a few months that he's really not that concerned, Halliburton would score a massive, multi-billion dollar federal contract...and do nothing, except perhaps hire a few illegal immigrants to clean up Cheney's yard. Fire ants themselves would spread even further...

On the flip side, though, it'd be amusing to watch administration big shots try to deal with fire ant stings, which, as anyone who's ever been bitten knows all too well, really suck.

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