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controlling ants with a wee bit of fungus

 
paul wheaton
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Was it ...  2007 ??  when I first heard paul stamets speak?  It was at bastyr.  An amazing experience.  And although I walked away certain that paul stamets was saving the world in four different ways, something that I thought was the most important was the thing about the ants

It goes like this:  suppose your house, being made of wood, is being consumed by carpenter ants.  My feeble knowledge in the space says:  if you see one, there are a hundred you don't see.  So it would seem that diatomaceous earth (DE) isn't gonna work.  For DE to work, there has to be a lot of it and the ants have to get a lot of it on them.  But if they are comfy in the wood, then you aren't gonna do much. 

So, up until 2007, I could only think of IPM:  come up with stuff that brings the smallest possible toxicity to the situation.  I am really uncomfortable with IPM.  It is a gross violation of my standards.  There is a lost of non-toxic things you can do (DE on the floors, DE in the walls, DE everywhere, move the wood piles away from your home, try to learn where, exactly, the ants are .... etc. etc. etc ...) but in the end I suspect that there will still be some homes that I cannot come up with a way to save in a non-toxic way. 

We struggled with this very issue in this thread:  http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/308_0/critter-care/carpenter-ants

That changed in 2007. 

Paul stamets has a rich story of finding a fungus that if you put it out on a little plate, the carpenter ants find it, take it to the queen and the rest of the colony and .... problem solved. 

There is even a picture of an ant with fungus growing out of it.  (maybe somebody from FP can link to such a pic?)

So!  The really big question now is:  when is fungi perfecti gonna come out with this product?


 
paul wheaton
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That might be it.  I think the stuff that stamets is playing with works a little differently.

 
rose macaskie
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  You are right paul stamets mixture works a little differently because he did a little work on the whole business.
    The thing is that if the ant comes home stinking of the spores of this fungus, they don't let him into the ants nest, so infection of ants by spores floating down in air currents do not get rid of all your carpenter ants in a colony. the video in youtube shows how the mushroom infects ants with spores and how it works on the infected ants if i remember right.
      Paul Stamets thought about this and said to himself, "if the ants know how the fungus works the fungus knows they know, so the fungus has another strategy that catches out the ants. So Paul Stamets worked on different strategies.  He developed this possible alternative fungi infecting ants  strategy and it worked.  He grew mycelium in the laboratory to a stage when there was plenty of mycelium but no smelly spores, i hope i have got it right and tried this spawn on the ants and they loved it and took it back and fed his preparation to the queen and even bedded her on it and so the fungi got past all the ant protective strategies and could infest all the ants in the colony. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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I think the goverment scientists are just working on if it could have any cons. rose macaskie.
 
paul wheaton
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My impression is that paul stamets had heard that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.  He did some tinkering and figured out how to get it to work all the time. 

I suspect that the gub'mint is making FP jump through a skillion hoops to bring this stuff to market - and just behind the gub'mint is chemical companies whispering in the ear of the gub'mint saying "stop him!"

 
                          
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Using cordyceps as pest control? That's brilliance, there. Unfortunately ever since I saw that video of how it takes over ants' nervous systems and makes them zombies before bursting out of their eyes like a really inspired horror film, the thought of going near it gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. I can't imagine taking that stuff as a supplement... eugh. Not sure I'd want it in my walls, either. I think I'd rather have the ants qua ants rather than lie awake at night imagining my walls infested with zombie ants with cordyceps sprouting out of their heads.
 
paul wheaton
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I guess I never thought of the stuff popping out of my own eyeballs - I guess I assumed that it was pretty ant specific.  Not so? 
 
                          
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Oh, it's totally irrational. There's no scientific reason to believe that the fungus could attack humans too. Just... eugh.
 
rose macaskie
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  Good base for  a horror film,  a fungi that takes over our mind control makes us climbe to the top of trees so it can sporulate from on high. i like pauls wheatons i thought it was pretty ant specific.
  If it gives anyone the horrors them maybe it is time to tell horror stories about what other pesticides do, i suppose what they do is not always pretty. rose
 
paul wheaton
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I remember that it was a hive solution:  so it works on ants and bees.  I'm not sure why it doesn't hurt mammals.  Maybe it would if we touched it or ate it.

 
Leah Sattler
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I always wonder with natural or manmade products....if it does that to insects what does it do to us!? it is often a dose related issue though.
 
rose macaskie
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  i have to talk of the possible downside to theis product of Paul Stamets.
    I heard that in hot places ants where the ones that pulled organic matter into the ground, in cooler ones its worms and Bill Mollison has a bit of video on how good termites are at stopping desertification because they pull so much grass into their nests to feed fungi, not mortal fungi, whose hypha they eat and that where their nests are there are trees.  The whole desert is spotted with spots covered in trees, the termites nests, islaqnds of green in the desert.

    That fits in with my, "the chinese are crazy to kill their jerbils that pull stores of vegetation into underground chambers as a supply for bad times". They must help the desert burying vegetable matter not cause desertification- they want to kill them according to a video of National Geographic about giant chinese gerbals or is it jerbals. they compete with the nomads camels for food.

    Bill mollisons video with the importance of termites nests is. Bill Mollisons, "dryland strategies Pt 2" video and its on the second half of this video, maybe not, maybe its at the begining of part two. on youtube.
  agri rose macaskie. 
 
                          
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did you know a dissolved termite mound is as good as most organic teas, full of nutrients and minerals
 
rose macaskie
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  bird  Have you tasted termite mound  tea. rose.
 
                          
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Rose

no i have not tasted termite mound tea, sorry for the confusion but i meant a compost tea for the garden. But thank you I needed a good giggle

There are people that use green ant nest to make a base for fish soups, and that is realy tasty

Bird
 
rose macaskie
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Glad to give you a giggle these forums make me smile but usually because i enjoy intercomunication and because people say, "silly on purpose" things, i really thought you meant herbal teas i was not sure about the ant mound tea being seriouse.
  We don't get delicacies like green ant nest based fish soup here, it certainly sounds intriguing enough to make one want to try it. rose
 
paul wheaton
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AMAZING!!!
 
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