Native U.S. Lizards Are Evolving To Escape Attacks By Fire Ants

Penn State Assistant Professor of Biology Tracy Langkilde has shown that native fence lizards in the southeastern United States are adapting to potentially fatal invasive fire-ant attacks by developing behaviors that enable them to escape from the ants, as well as by developing longer hind legs, which can increase the effectiveness of this behavior. “Not only does this finding provide biologists with an example of evolution in action, but it also provides wildlife managers with knowledge that they can use to develop plans for managing invasive species,” said Langkilde. The results will be described in a paper to be published…

Evolution in action!

I really want to be a biologist, so this is exciting stuff for me.

i just wish the quail would catch on to this. fire ants have almost wiped out all the nonfarm raised quail in texas. but hey good for you lizards.

What are fire ants?

they are a verry aggressive invading form of ant from south america. they tend to kill off most to all of the other ant types. they bite by the thousand. they wipe out ground dwelling/breeding species whereever they go and they seem to be constantly spreading. even without allergies children have died from shock when so many bies at once swell.

consider yourself lucky that the winter cold will probably keep them from getting to you.

Something else interesting is going on in Texas. There is an introduced European gekko spreading through the state. In the summer they are all over my patio at night, and they often find their way into the house.

But I saw no fire ants around my house last summer. Not any. And typically, there are several colonies I have to deal with every year. I suspect these gekkos are good at eating fire ants.

actually if true it provides proof for adaptation of species, not for evolution, which is about development of entirely new species but that distinction I am sure will be lost on the popular press.

at least these lizards are not illegals crossing our borders so we don’t have to shoot them

what we really need is a biologist who can develop a fire ant that will eat kudzu, or a variant of kudzu that is lethal to fire ants

if you want to find out, come on down here, drop some food on the ground, pick it up a few minutes later, and you will be bitten to pieces by these ants before you can get the debris to a trash barrel, and you will bear the scars from the bites for life, and endure the pain for weeks. If you are a small animal like a lizard who is asleep in the sun and becomes covered by fire ants you will be stung to death and ahem eaten. They are also the mascots for one of our local HS football teams

taxidermy is about all they are good for. if you stir up a mound and drop a skull(hair flash and all) on it, then cover the mound with a bucket so nothing drags it away then in short time you are eft with just bone and antler/horn(if present). its an easy way to do your own european mounts, but id take the hassle of boiling it over ants any day.

Yep-we definitely don’t have those critters,thank God.

What are chiggers?

redbugs. its a type of mite. they tend to be in tall grass or berry patches, almost only in the summer. they are tiny tiny tiny, really you can hardly see they. they bite and can cover a whole leg easily. it leaves a red patch tha lookls like a mild allergic reaction. i have never heard of a problem with them besides the fact that it itches like crazy. a warm to hot bath with a few ounces of bleach in it kills them, and the bites heal up in just a day or so if you dont scratch. if the skin isnt broken benadryl is more than enough to stop the itch.

Over the years I have noticed that if one spends a lot of time in chigger-infested areas, one eventually gets immune to their bites. Either that or they just get bored with you.

Are chiggers another name for wood ticks?We have those and they are decidedly unpleasant.

Do you have blackfly?Noseeums?Deer fly?

Chiggers are a different thing from ticks.

No blackfly, noseeums or deer flies. I live in the Ozarks, but I did have occasion to meet deer flies in Michigan one summer. Very aggressive and obnoxious. We have a much bigger fly which we call a “horse fly”, but they’re not particularly aggressive toward humans. They bother horses, though, and cows. Not very agile, you can usually swat one if one lands on your horse. Those Michigan deer flies, though, were lightning quick.

I have never heard of chiggers referred to as anything but “chiggers”.

We have horseflies as well.When they bite you can see a literal hole.You haven’t lived until you experience blackfly season primarily in the more cental to Northern parts of Canada.
I have seen moose exit the bush vexed and in agony seeking to escape literal clouds of them.

I think evolution is “adaptation of the species”. They don’t become “entirely new species” (i.e., cats don’t change into dogs).

Well, that wouldn’t count as a new species either, as both cats and dogs are ‘old’ animals, not new. Thereby the transformation would be to something different, not new.

But I get your point.

Back in the Industrial Revolution, so I’ve read, there was a particular speciese of moth which was camoflauged in such a way that it could blend with the white bark of a particular tree. But, due to all the soot and pollution about, the trees quickly turned a grimey grey or black. The moths, hiding on the tree, instead of being hidden, became easy pickins for predators. However, after some time, the moths turned grey! And blended in with their new environment!

Then, when they began to change policies, and stop a great deal of the pollution, the trees returned to their original white, and the moths soon followed. No new species, just adaptation.

Whereas, evolutionists say there were no chickens when there were Tyranosauruses, so, new speciese would have had to…appeared…from somewhere.

that is exactly what evolutionists claim that new species originate, ie reptiles turned into birds, fish turned into amphibians. No adaptation is not the same thing as evolution, although it is theorized that a series of adaptations may in time lead to the evolution of an entirely new species, but that is not what is described in the cited research

So there are two things:
(1) longer hind legs, and (2) developing behaviors to escape from ants.

I suppose longer hind legs are probably a genetic trait that could be selected for. The really interesting part is the behavior. Is there a genetic basis for the escape behavior that is being selected for? Or is it a learned behavior that somehow these lizards are “teaching” to each other? I don’t know if lizards do this kind of stuff, but apparently birds (e.g. crows) will share “best practices” with one another, like how to eat poisonous toads without dying.

We don’t have fire ants yet, and I hope we don’t get them, but if we do, I think what the genetic engineering folks need to do is genetically engineer the local copperheads and water moccasins so they’ll eat so many fire ants they choke.

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