[ExI] super soldier ants

Kasey Anderson kaseylinanderson at gmail.com
Mon Jan 9 21:33:06 UTC 2012

Dang it, I've been deemed sane?  That puts a real dent in my reputation. :D

I'm not saying setting giant ants on slugs wouldn't be fun to try.  You
provide an interesting perspective on the idea that slugs wouldn't be able
to adapt to the ants with a goo layer.  However, it doesn't necessarily
mean that nature won't find another way around the problem.  This sort of
predator/prey evolution is something nature is quite good at. :)  One
possible adaptation, for instance, is that the slugs would simply become
bigger over time, making it more difficult for the ants to prey on them.
 This however might slow the slugs down as well.  Without experimentation,
however, it'd be really impossible to tell.

Providing nothing really horrifying happened during testing, however, I'd
be perfectly happy to risk the chance that the slugs would find a way to
evolve out of the situation.  As you mentioned, evolution isn't really a
problem; we've been using antibiotics for years and they have most
assuredly proved useful despite the fact that bacteria are finding ways to
resist our solutions.  Any solution that can buy us a few decades gives us
the chance to come up with a better solution.  It's fine if things evolve
around our defenses, as long as we can stay a step ahead and have more
defenses ready for them afterward.

You would have to test this quite extensively, preferably in a contained
environment, before releasing the bugs into many fields, although since you
mentioned that the ants die after a few days, I can't imagine they would be
able to cause a whole lot of damage.

I do wonder with the whole earthworm issue whether there are species of
ants that eat slugs and not earthworms, though.  It seems like the
researchers' genetic manipulation is widespread to a large variety of ants.
 Maybe we should write them a letter and ask them what they'd recommend. ;)

>>Do feel free to tell us about Kasey.  Is it OK for me to mention your
highly esteemed ExI-chat relative?

Here spike, I'll address both things at the same time and save you the
trouble. ;)  I'm Kasey Anderson, daughter of Kelly Anderson, who has been
hanging around the list for quite a while. :)  I'm currently majoring in
Biomedical Engineering and planning on getting a PhD in the field
eventually as well.  I just started a new semester today and am pretty
excited as I'll be starting to work with a professor on a research project
involving a drug delivery system which has just recently been discovered.
 (I'll be testing a couple of different drugs that will hopefully help to
alleviate some of the problems involved with inflammation that occurs with

I'm taking a lot of really fun classes and in addition, I'll be continuing
to tutor other college students (something I've been doing since high
school, as I took around 60 college credits between 10th-12th grade), which
is really a blast.

I have a couple of ideas for what to do with my degree.  One of my current
goals is to write a science fiction novel.  I'm also thinking about the
possibility of eventually starting a tissue engineering business.  We'll
see if either of those things work out. ;)  At any rate, getting a degree
in BME isn't exactly going to leave me impoverished. :D In the shorter
term, I'm trying to do well enough to get into Stanford's PhD program.  I
finished off my first semester with a 3.9 GPA, so hopefully I can keep my
grades up.  As for the standardized testing part of getting into grad
school, I received a score in the top 5th percentile in the nation on the
SAT, so I'm confident I can transfer the testing skills I've learned to the

With the credits I've earned, I'm technically a junior now, but I've
basically just finished off my general education and have only taken a few
general science courses.  I'm 18 and just starting off my education, so try
not to mock me too incessantly if I get some aspect of science wrong.
(Especially physics.  I haven't taken any of that at a college level yet).


2012/1/8 spike <spike66 at att.net>

> ** **
> ** **
> *From:* extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org [mailto:
> extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] *On Behalf Of *Kasey Anderson
> *Sent:* Sunday, January 08, 2012 11:00 AM
> *To:* ExI chat list
> *Subject:* Re: [ExI] super soldier ants****
> ** **
> >…Well, you know, as long as it's an ant-eat-slug world, sounds like a
> great idea. ;)  But you know, you get the same problem as with the
> pesticides.  At least *one* of the slugs will survive due to some
> mutation, and by surviving it will pass its genes on to the next generation
> of slugs.  Super ants?  Great.  Super slugs?  Ewww. :D****
> ** **
> Ewwww,?  Kasey, why do you ewww?  It’s perfect!  The real problem isn’t
> the bugs evolving around the countermeasures.  The real problems are the
> buildup of bad stuff in the topsoil and the cost of applying it.  This
> solves the heck outta both those problems.****
> Beasts cannot necessarily evolve their way around every countermeasure.
> This might be a good example of one they couldn’t really evolve around,
> reasoning: there is a functional cost to having a goo layer on the skin:
> slugs must absorb oxygen through that.  Since that factor would necessarily
> limit their metabolism, they tend to be slow and methodical about
> everything.  Thus the term sluggish.  Or if you are a fan of ancient
> writings, consider Proverbs 6 verse 6:  “Go to the ant, thou sluggard;
> consider her ways and be wise.”****
> Kasey, is that cool or what?  We can go to the ant and modify her ways to
> devour the slug, for which we get the term for a lazy person, the
> sluggard.  Of course, the bible was copied by hand repeatedly and mistakes
> might have been made.  For instance, the proverb might have been written
> from the point of view of the slug, and it was originally: “Goo to the ant,
> thou slug guard…”  ****
> But I digress.  Ohhh, this is wicked cool.****
> So the slug has a protective goo layer, which limits his ability to absorb
> oxygen and necessarily limits his metabolism, but the ant does not, so she
> runs around and works like an ant, while the slug just leaves a revolting
> slime trail and moves about in a sluggish manner, while writing proverbs.
> I theorize that the slug cannot evolve a slime layer thick enough to
> outreach the super ant’s powerful mandibles, for that layer thickness is
> limited by the necessity to pass oxygen in and carbon dioxide out.****
> Regarding my alternatives, I do know that copper can build up in topsoil
> if you don’t have the right kinds of crops to draw it back out of there (we
> don’t) and it is expensive.  So if I can fight slugs with ants, that would
> please me greatly.  If I can avoid the cost of hiring more guys to spread
> anti-slug pesticides, that would please me even more, and the salmon people
> would be pleased as well.  If I can displace or chase off the other beasts
> along with the slugs, that is better still.****
> Note to Kasey: you seem sane and smart, so I switched off your moderation
> flag.  Post freely, me lass, and welcome!  Do feel free to tell us about
> Kasey.  Is it OK for me to mention your highly esteemed ExI-chat relative?
> ****
> spike****
> ** **
> ** **
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