Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Monday Memo

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Monday Memo

Article excerpt

Our scientifically oriented friends, the aggies, are doing good again - by going to the head of the class, so to speak - on the problem of the fire ant.

Fire ants are more than an irritant - they have frightened and even killed people and animals in the United States for nearly 60 years.

Now a federal researcher is about to unleash a South American fly that will destroy fire ants. The PHORID fly swoops down and torpedoes the ant's body. Actually, it injects eggs that look and act like torpedoes, said SANFORD D. PORTER, a researcher with the Gainesville branch of the AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE. "It's kind of like a squadron of APACHE attack helicopters just whaling away on the colony of ants," Porter said. A maggot hatches and crawls forward into the ant's head, where it grows into a pupa, emitting natural proteins, which dissolve tissue that is then eaten by the maggot. Within 12 hours, the ant's HEAD FALLS OFF and the maggot eventually emerges as an adult fly, which goes on to launch its own torpedoes. What a way take the heat out of the fire ant! It's the first SUPERFLY we've heard about since the '70s, when the movies had a character by that name, and there was a basketball player, too. The hoopster was a member for 71 games in 1974-75 of the late and lamented SPIRITS OF ST. LOUIS, a short-lived professional hoops team in the old AMERICAN BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION. JAMES "FLY" WILLIAMS played here with other luminaries such as MARVIN "BAD NEWS" BARNES and MOSES "MUMBLES" MALONE, who went on to what seemed like a 30-year career in the NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION. In The Fly's one year with the Spirits, he led the ABA in turnovers per minutes played. "But," as columnist DOUG GROW wrote in 1979, "in retrospect, it was the best year of Fly Williams' life." As far as we can tell, the The Fly's only other claim to fame was the accompanying cartoon of a housefly with James' head attached, trying to shed his minor-league image. It was drawn by AMADEE WOHLSCHLAEGER. Unfortunately, Amadee's art was better than The Fly's basketball. After trying (more than a few) shots in the minors, James Williams failed to make it to the NBA. …

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