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back to article They WANT to EAT YOUR COMPUTER - welcome your ANT overlords

A massive horde of computer-killing "crazy ants" are invading the southeastern US, killing other species as they go. New research released today in the journal Biological Invasions warns the aliens have wiped out at least one other ant invader, the exotic fire ant, but are also targeting local ants with deadly precision. More …

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It's no joke

One data centre thought they'd combat these wee beasties with spiders. The inevitable chain of events followed, and the data centre ended up being swallowed by an old lady.

She's dead, of course.

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Re: It's no joke

Being from the southeast, I'm very much aware of these pests. It's not all electronics they are interested in, but just some electrical and moisture. So, you could put a keyboard in the yard. They would never touch it. But a relay for , say a well motor, or an electrical outlet, and they swarm it. I don't know what the difference is between a wet computer verses an outlet, but there is and that's what they want. They especially are a problem in electronics for A/Cs and wells. They crowd the relay contacts (nothing else electrical in or around the area) and get crushed, preventing the relays from closing.

I deal with them the same way I deal with fire ants, I purchase a spray bottle of ant killer (Home Defense MAX) once a year and spray around all items (thus my multiple years of experience with them.) every 6 weeks.

All other electronics, my pump, salt water machine, lights, etc...... no problems. Relays and outlets..... it's like they are committing mass suicide.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's no joke

If possible, get some Roach-Proof (boric acid) and sprinkle that around the affected devices. Lay it down pretty thick - like you are the Winchesters laying down a circle of protection from demons. Arthropods don't like the stuff - it gets into their joints and tears them up, causing them to dehydrate, as well as getting into their spicules and choking them.

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Re: It's no joke

Diatomaceous earth should also be effective. It abrades the coating over their chitin and they dehydrate.

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Re: It's no joke

I would guess they react either to something outgassing from the plastic, or the electrical field - even a small field is going to play hell with ant antennae.

Simple enough to test, though. Dump some electronics in the garden without power, see if they are attracted.

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Boffin

Re: It's no joke

Erm, boric acid works on ants as a stomach poison. It doesnt affect their joints in any way at all....Furthermore, they wont ingest it unless its mixed with a sugar or protein based food (honey/peanut butter).

Besides, Quantum Maxforce (Imidacloprid) will deal with the entire colony....

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Re: It's no joke

We always mixed 3 parts boric acid powder with 1 part confectioner's sugar to treat for roaches. I'd try that. If they don't go for it, try tweaking the mixture a bit. Make sure to keep pets/kids WELL away from it.

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Headmaster

Re: It's no joke

Actually, ants (and surprisingly roaches as well) are very hygienic, and will frequently clean themselves and each other. In the process, they will usually ingest some of whatever is on them.

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Boffin

Re: It's no joke

If they're attracted to relays and motors (?motors with brushes only?) then I'd hazard a guess that it's Ozone or

Nitrogen Oxides that attract them.

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Coat

Call for Ponder Stibbons

We obviously need to start building computers like Hex instead of messing around with electronics.

(The robe and point hat. Pass my staff while you're at it, yes the one with the knob on the end)

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Boffin

Re: Call for Ponder Stibbons

And there are people wondering where all the bees are.

They are working on the replacement of the replacement of Deep Thought.

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Joke

Why's your bugzapper sitting on the ground?

"Ants"

You don't use bugzappers for ants!

"Watch..."

Wow, look at that thing sparkle....

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Holmes

If they like the taste of circuit boards, why don't we make them out of something that doesn't attract these things?

Maybe we can expect pesticide sprayed PCBs at the factory whilst they think of an alternative.

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maybe

A PCB is made up of sandwiches of epoxy, fiberglass and copper. I doubt ants can sense glass or copper but they might be picking up a chemical signal from the the epoxy. A small change to the epoxy chemistry might put them off.

It is not clear to me that they are attracted to the PCB though. It could be a chemical signal from wire insulation or something to do with electric fields. Some research is required. No matter what it probably doesn't make economic sense to make special electronics for what is now such a small market segment. Some other mitigation is needed.

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Re: maybe

Research is definitely required. This is far more interesting than some of the utter crap that gets funded, simply proving or disproving the ants being able to detect EMF would be worth the research, not that this sort of testing would be particularly expensive!

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Re: maybe

Did you see the list of states affected?

Any research into the evolutionary behavior would have to conclude that Jesus did it.

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Re: maybe

If the link was proved, we could make them all little tin-foil hats....

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Maybe

Maybe they eat stink bugs. That would be something at least.

Fire ant bites do hurt terribly bad they can also be deadly to house pets. My girlfriends, at the time, dog was bitten to death by a disturbing a bunch of them. Poor thing, I couldn't do anything to help it.

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JDX
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Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

If we've started putting hashtags in comments, that's a new low.

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Thumb Down

Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

What is wrong with the downvoting turds lately?

Windows 8 sucks. #dealwithit

Windows 8 is entirely irrelevant to this article. If you want to bitch about an OS, do so in a relevant forum.

If you want to use hashtags, do so on another site.

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JDX
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Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

You still used a hashtag.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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FAIL

Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

"What is wrong with the downvoting turds lately?

Windows 8 sucks. #dealwithit

"

You must be new here. "Eadon" continuously posts anti-MS posts at all opportunities - even if the topic isn't about windows.. Such as this one.

People have asked him to stop - he won't, hence all the downvoting.

P.S. hashtags don't belong on this site either

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FAIL

Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

Aaaaaaand so...

Eadon has, yet again, successfully derailed the first page of a comments thread, pushing all other relevant comments down, by trolling all of you fucking morons into responding to him. One post, and you've all been sucked in and rendered the entire thread worthless with your ranting at him.

Yes, I know this post contributes to the derailment, but if anyone wanting to respond to this has even one fucking brain cell, this post will remain the last one in the chain.

My respect for the El Reg community is dropping fast, decrementing every time I see you idiots giving Eadon exactly what he wants.

Successful troll is successful.

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Windows

Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

Erm, we just did!!!!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

Handily, I happen to be a mod, so I'm going to do that universally popular mod thing and remind everyone of the house rules: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/01/register_comments_guidelines/

Pay close attention to points 2, 3 and 4. Think about what you're saying, be pertinent and don't troll. Don't like what another user posts? Ignore it. Can't ignore it? Use the handy grey "ignore" button next to that commentard's username so you don't have to make the effort to ignore it.

tl;dr Play nicely or else.

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Re: What is wrong with the downvoting turds lately?

I don't think that downvoting Eadon is that effective. I think he collects downvotes and downvoting him is providing him with negative attention. If people stopped reacting to his obvious trolling, then he'd get bored and go away.

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Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

What handy grey "ignore" button??

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Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

See screencap below. The button is only visible if you're logged into the forums:

http://regmedia.co.uk/2013/05/21/ignore_button_commentards.png

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Thumb Down

Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

Gaz, only Register people and Gold Badge posters get the 'ignore' option.

If that wasn't the case, the problem would have probably been solved.

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Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

Because, of course, Steven Roper is allowed to reply, but the rest of us are "fucking morons"

Steven, your post reads almost as much of a troll as Eadons.

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Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

"I wasn't aware of it being against the rules on here. Oh you're not a moderator? okay stalemate then."

I don't think there is anything in the rules about not posting inane status updates every 5 minutes, but if I did, it would be in your right to tell me I'm doing wrong, even though *shock, gasp* you ain't moderator either. Stalemate #2

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Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

Really? I'm surprised ... you can tell I'm new to El Reg's forums! I'll ask Drew about that when I get a spare moment, pretty much every other forum on the internet offers an "ignore" feature as standard. Cheers.

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Thumb Up

Re: Windows 8 computers are safe

Thanks Gaz. Yep, it seems pretty strange to restrict it. Maybe it was for beta purposes, and then Drew forgot!

Whilst you're at it, can you ask for email notifications of post replies :-)

Cheers, J

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Anonymous Coward

There's a documentary on this.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070531/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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Sigh..

Ye gods, how many things can you get wrong in one article? RIFA sting, they dont bite, except to anchor themselves (they then sting in a cute little circle). The venom is the second nastiest after pogomyrmex (itself a 10th as nasty as taipan venom, think a mid range viper or a uk Adder) and its primary danger in humans is either venom overload or anaphylaxis. Add to this that theyre aggressive little sods that make asiatic bees seem positively cuddly and you begin to see why theyre so nasty. Oh and they also love electrics too, traffic lights being a particular favourite..

Fulva has a secret weapon in that it is one of the super colony ants - RIFA colony is based on a single queen, Fulva colonies have several and related colonies act & react as one. In the wild these can cover large areas and crowd out even species like RIFA.

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Count yourself lucky

Given El Reg's record in entomology I'm surprised they weren't described as termites.

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Re: Sigh..

Thank you for your informative post. I was going to write a similar post explaining the nature of the sting and its effect, but you covered most of it already. One sting is bad. But if you accidentally step on a nest, you can get hundreds of stings at once.The venom is a combination of toxins, histamines (they cause allergic reactions), and formic acid. It causes a small, very painful blister, and the surrounding skin is also irritated. The blisters take about two weeks to heal. Words like "fire" and "burning" only begin to describe the effect.

Most of the nests I've seen were adjacent to or underneath logs and boards on the ground. The ants also fill up junction boxes if there are conduits leading to the ground. The boxes I've seen were filled with moist dirt. I'm not sure if the ants were eating the wires, but the moisture ruined the electrical parts.

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Re: Sigh..

Interesting. The thing that surprises me most is that this is an American thingy, and not Australian, given the antipodes predilection for dangerous creatures. Or are they worse down there?

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Trollface

Re: Sigh..

> Given El Reg's record in entomology I'm surprised they weren't described as termites.

That would have meant mentioning Space Marines, and then Copyright Violations Against Space Marines, and then we would be off on a tangent with Andrew.

Seriously, these ant invasions are weird. It's almost as if an alien intelligence wanted to take us out with better and better engineered stuff .... like in Philip K. Dick's Expendable. Maybe we should talk to the spiders.

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Re: Sigh..

I think we have colonies of these things in Australia too ... I seem to remember some time back hearing about it. But not in Canberra, they can't hack the cold winters.

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bep

Sigh

Well, we get the home team, such as Bullants, and the visitors, such as Argentine ants, so there's plenty out there to ruin your picnic. Some species seem very attracted to hard drives (spinning disc so magnetic field?) and once they arrive they are a bugger to get rid of.

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Re: Sigh..

>But not in Canberra, they can't hack the cold winters.

Or the politicians

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Re: Sigh..

Fire ants do exist down under, they have been accidentally imported to the Brisbane/Ipswich area. It is not yet clear whether their painful fiery bites are responsible for the hair colour and annoying voice of Pauline Hanson.

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