Giant Ant

Them Crazy Ants

Giant Ant
“Giant ant” by Flickr user Gerry Dincher, used under Creative Commons License

If you’re looking for a dose of the weird, I believe this fulfills your recommended daily allowance. I just read this article in the New York Times Magazine about crazy ants, which I’d never heard of before. [Warning! The article is not for the squeamish.] Apparently they’re an invasive species—Nylanderia fulva—which is native to Brazil, but they’re called “crazy ants” because they just swarm around with no apparent purpose.

To me, the craziest part of the crazy ant story is that they were discovered in 2002—why am I only just hearing about them now? Well, that or the mention of the giant African land snail (another invasive species) which is apparently plaguing Florida. I hadn’t heard of them, either, and did a quick Google search … and felt sure for a second that somebody was pulling a prank, on the level of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

Anyway: so far the crazy ants are mostly in Texas, but they’re spreading rapidly and nothing seems to be working to contain them. But get this: they are apparently attracted to electricity. Okay, nobody can really explain this, but the ants get into electrical appliances and outlets and end up shorting things out. While the truth is already pretty bizarre, I think the crazy ants would make for a new premise for dystopian fiction.

You know, when a writer needs an excuse to put people back into a pre-industrial society, they need some cataclysm, right? So we get nuclear wars, zombie apocalypse, peak oil or other ecological collapse, hunger games … now we could have crazy ants! See, the ants spread enough that all our electric devices and electronics die out. And of course you’ve got the built in creepiness of ants all over everything.

So, hop to it, sci-fi writers! I expect to be reading some awesome ant-based dystopian fiction by this time next year. By candlelight, since my lamps and flashlights will all have succumbed to the crazy ants.

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