In the wild west of Western Australia the toad wars are on. The Cane toads are still winning the battle for territory against humans, animals and plants. The imported toxic Cane toad is the nemesis of the environment and is spreading across Australia.
Cat food to the rescue
Humans are leading the attack against the poisonous Cane toads on many fronts but their efforts have failed.
They have tried battering, gasing, shooting, running over and even freezing the toxic toads out of existence, but scientists say just a spoon full of Whiskas could stop the warty horde. When fighting a predator war one must fight with another predator or the toads will continue to win the Toad Wars. Their poison kills all comers. The toads reproduce prolifically, eat anything, are incredibly tough, secrete poison that kills pets and wildlife and injure humans. They have withstood various campaigns to wipe them out.
Now an enterprising Aussie research team lead by Professor Shine has discovered a secret weapon to use against the toads. It seems that the newly emerged baby toads are extreemily vulnerable to Meat ant attacks.
Meat Ants or Gravel ants are the most abundant ant in Australia and measures up to 1 cm long. They build large nests underground and use sand, gravel or dead vegetation to line the surface around the nest entrance. The worker ants have powerful jaws and communicate using chemical signals. The workers are very aggressive and often attack in large numbers when they feel the vibrations of an intruder. Meat Ants do not sting but do have a nasty bite and can discharge a defensive chemical which really smells awful. Meat ants are omnivores eating plants and animals. The look for food during daylight hours. Australian farmers sometimes use the ants as a quick and easy way to remove an animal carcass by placing the dead animal over a nest. Within a few weeks the ants would have stripped the carcass to bones.
Now back to the Toad Wars
So cat food is placed near the shores of the emerging young cane toads. The ants being meat eaters are attracted by the smell of cat food find it a short “hop” (pun intended) to go from eating canned to dining on raw meat. The toads freeze when bitten by the ants rather than flee so the ants are treated to fine toad a la cart. Humans and the ants are happy.
Toad mortalities has increased by fourfold with the addition of cat food baits.
Meat ants have already killing millions of cane toads, but seem to be willing to up their consumption.
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