Molten Aluminum Used to Make Casts of Ant Nests

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Molten Aluminum Used to Make Casts of Ant Nests

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Soooo before you go off on a rant in the comments about killing off innocent ants for no reason (and I'm sure there will be some who will still do that), this is a colony of red imported fire ants, or simply RIFA. RIFAs are native to central South America and have become pests in the southern United States (among other areas), causing problems for farmers and homeowners alike.

RIFAs are very aggressive and most animals (humans included) find this out when they accidentally step on one of their mounds, at which point the ants will swarm up the legs and attack in a coordinated effort. RIFA venom, which is injected during a sting, is composed of a necrotizing alkaloid and  results in the formation of painful, itchy, and persistent pustules on the skin, and sometimes causes severe allergic reactions.

The FDA estimates annual spending of more than $5 billion on medical treatment, damage, and control in RIFA-infested areas and that these ants cause approximately $750 million in damage annually to agricultural assets, a figure which includes veterinary bills, and livestock and crop loss.

There are a number of ways of trying to control and eliminate this pest, including poisons and injecting hot steam or boiling water into the nests. But this artist took a different approach.

After pouring in molton aluminum, the metal is allowed to cool before it is dug up and washed to leave a perfect cast of the chamber structure of the colony. You can view detailed images of the finished result of this cast here. The resulting cast in video ended up with a depth of 18" and weighed nearly 18 pounds.

The artists work is for sale on eBay (although this one has already been sold), and you can find more information on availability on the artists website.

BONUS: Australia: Where Everything Can Kill You and the Spiders Eat Snakes!

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