Pomona College Magazine
Volume 41. No. 2.
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Pomona College Magazine is published three times a year by Pomona College
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Online Editor: Mark Kendall

For editorial matters:
Editor: Mark Wood
Phone: (909) 621-8158
Fax: (909) 621-8203

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Excerpt from:

Bitten
True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings

By Pamela Nagami ’72, M.D.
St. Martin’s Press, 2004
352 pages • $24.95

The following excerpt is from page 9 of Chapter One, titled “Invincible Invaders”:

“Fire ants attack not only plants and animals. Attracted to the heated asphalt, they build mounds under rural roads, which then collapse as the undermined soil subsides. In 1977, a survey of forty miles of roadway in North Carolina revealed an average of twenty fire ant colonies per mile, with some undermining of the road at each location.

“Solenopsis invicta, the most pragmatic of creatures, has one peculiar trait. It is attracted to anything electrical. Fire ants, like bees, have tiny deposits of iron in their bodies and are, in fact, slightly ferromagnetic. But scientists are puzzled as to why fire ants enjoy being shocked by electric currents so much. Researchers at the University of Texas in El Paso set up special electric boxes, each with sixteen sets of copper points. They then put about four hundred worker fire ants in each box and turned on the current. Whether AC or DC, once the voltage reached fifty, the ants started swarming over the points. Even three hundred and fifty volts of direct current was not too hot for them. But it had to be electricity—electromagnetic fields, ozone, or wire insulation left the ants indifferent. ...”

©Copyright 2004
by Pomona College
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