Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Programmed Ants

Ants that come out to clean only when proper stimulus is applied.
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(+10, -7)
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The battle against ants seems very inefficient. One of the main reasons for excess cleanlyness is to avoid insect infestations. If you spill food in the house you must kill ants who want to eat it, so you either work to clean the house or kill ants, or both. If you just let them they want to clean your house.

Why not genetically modify some ants so they are strongly attracted (or will even die) without some controllable stimulous, such as ultraviolet light or a scent. Make them be repelled by normal light or another scent. Make them never bite. You flip on the black light and they rush out and grab everything they can carry below some threshold size and carry it back to the nest, for later digestion. Set a timer so they come out every night for one hour.

Keep the ants in an air tight box with controllable vents so they can be sealed in by the squeemish. I think if you could demonstrate ants running full speed back into the box within seconds of turning on the light, or turning off the UV light, it would ease many people's fears.

Most people I've mentioned it to don't like the idea, but I think never having to vaccuum the house again would eventually win them over.

Humans go way too far ensuring that nothing lives in their houses except humans and perhaps a handfull of specific pet animals and plants kept in very precise locations. It can't be healthy living in such a dead zone. A stable system would keep all ecological niches filled with desireable creatures, not try to enforce a vaccuum.

tolly2, Jan 31 2002

scratching by now are we? http://tx.essortmen...nbodyparas_rayv.htm
various and many parasites on the body [po, Jan 31 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Ants in the kitchen http://tx.essortmen...scontrolan_rfhr.htm
(Same site as [po]'s link.) [angel, Jan 31 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

some people quite like ants http://www.stalking...om/why_not_bugs.htm
warning - to those with delicate stomachs inc. me - excuse me for a while..... [po, Jan 31 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

juno's link http://www2.r8esc.k...LCOMESOFTRAINS.html
This is the place to put it, juno. [neelandan, Feb 02 2002]

juno's link http://www2.r8esc.k...LCOMESOFTRAINS.html
This is the place to put it, juno. [neelandan, Oct 04 2004]


       A fundamentally sound notion, but the genetic modification bit puts me off. Why not just train your ants?
angel, Jan 31 2002

       I think you may be surprised at how many living things are wandering about your house as we speak. Not to mention the millions that inhabit the inside and outside of your body. e.g. running in and out of your eyelashes. Quite a revolting notion, I agree but ho hum, live and let live.
po, Jan 31 2002

       Seems like an awful lot of work for the sake of wiping up whatever you have spilt. How do you intend to control the population of your ant colony? And you fail to notice that the ants will be defecating on whatever surfaces they move across.
LardyBloke, Jan 31 2002

       I think the point is that, unless you spend every waking hour getting rid of them, the ants are going to be around anyway, so why not get them to do something useful.
angel, Jan 31 2002

       Fishbone. GM WIBNI.
waugsqueke, Jan 31 2002

       //How do you intend to control the population of your ant colony?   

       Introduce a whole load of spiders. And obviously to control them we'd need some sort of small spider eating rodent. To stop them getting out of hand, include some sort of ferral cat .If they get out of control, the just chuck in the odd wolf, if they get out of control....hold on, this may have its drawbacks....I'll get back to you...
mcscotland, Jan 31 2002

       mcs - does all this end up with an old lady eating the lot of them?
po, Jan 31 2002

       True. I just couldn't think of anything that eats anteaters. Then again, I can't see why spiders don't work out that ants are easy meals - ants never seem to deviate from the chosen line they march on, so just chuck a strong net across the line and there you go. Maybe they taste bad?
mcscotland, Jan 31 2002

       I don't think there's enough meat on an ant, they're no real comparison to a nice juicy fly or moth for instance. Too damn difficult to catch as well. And they bite.
LardyBloke, Jan 31 2002

       Boned. 'Wouldn't it be neat if this magic technology that I read about works'.
StarChaser, Jan 31 2002

       http://www2.r8esc.k12.in.us/socratic/resources/THEREWILLCOMESOFTRAINS.html "Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted. The rooms were acrawl with the small cleaning animals, all rubber and metal. They thudded against chairs, whirling their mustached runners, kneading the rug nap, sucking gently at hidden dust. Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped into their burrows. Their pink electric eyes faded. The house was clean."
juno, Feb 01 2002

       The obvious problem here is that the ants will inevitably figure out how to control their programming, turning themselves into a breed of uncontrollable super-ants that battle humankind for global dominance. You don't watch enough old science fiction movies.
snarfyguy, Feb 03 2002

       Angry feeding ants is wonderful.They can live alongside the dust mites and mold spores that feed off human tissue as we speak.The rickets that naw on your flesh while you are sleeping would welcome ants as a commrade.
pig, Aug 01 2003

       Hello tolly2 This is a grea adea. And if you stombel over tese ants please contact me at torgeir.s@c2i.net I vant to import them to Norway. I hear ants have become popular as pets in germany.
toggen, Feb 27 2004

       Cool. I like this idea - one of the bathrooms in my flat seems to be host to some quite large ants. They are not very numerous (I can only ever see 3 or 4 at a time) and their large size means they are very easy to avoid.   

       That bathroom is possibly the cleanest room in the house - no dust, no random hairs lying about, or particles of dirt, flakes of skin etc - all carefully harvested by the ants, I suspect. Of course, I could be wrong.   

       Another interesting ant experience was when I first moved out to India. I took with me a 1-year old, fairly heavily used laptop. After about a week I was getting ready to go to work one morning when I noticed a tiny red ant come out from beside one of the trackpad buttons. And another, this time from the keyboard. And another - I went beserk - how dare living things be setting up home in my computer! surely their formic acid trails will destroy the circuit boards, or the hard drive?! I tried in vain to take the thing apart (if you want an indestructable laptop, buy an older Sony...) but eventually resigned myself to the fact that there were ants in the thing and maybe it would not last long.   

       After a couple of days, ant signtings became extremely rare. Then they were gone. On closer inspection my keyboard was completely free from bits of skin, dust and food particles. I have never seen anything clean like that! I can assume all those areas behind cracks that get food, dust and skin remnants in them are also clean. Nearly 2 years later, the laptop still works and is pretty clean - maybe the odd ant comes and collects the buildup every couple of days?   

       So... ants for cleaning. Definately. I want a timer to release swarms of the creatures who would not only be inclined to clean, but to battle against other creatures that I dont want in the house, like cockroaches. Perhaps an army of spiders to take care of mosquitoes too. Then, when the second timer goes, a pheremone is released that makes them all head back to the nest - maybe a box in the hallway - to eat and breed etc. Their breeding would have to be controllable to the population would level off once the box has optimum population for the house.   

       Not sure how to stop them going too far (e.g. causing panic for the neighbours!), maybe put down strips which emit another pheremone on the exterior doors.
Jim'll Break It, Apr 07 2005


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