Pest Control Fail

The Argentine Ant Linepithema humile hasn’t been known under the name Iridomyrmex humilis since 1992, when Steve Shattuck modernized dolichoderine taxonomy. Since then, every scientific study on this ant has been published under the new combination.

Why would anyone trust a pest control company that hasn’t read the technical literature on an important pest in the last 20 years?

16 thoughts on “Pest Control Fail”

  1. Along a similar line, is there a guide or some authority to pronunciations of scientific names of species? Or, is it like toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe?

  2. I think that if you trick the ants into saying their valid scientific name backwards, they get sent back to the dimension they came from.

    1. … but only if you repeat it 3 times fast….

      Alex, I surely hope you say “Why would anyone trust a pest control company that hasn’t read the technical literature on an important pest in the last 20 years?” with at least some tongue in cheek.

      The ability of a pest control company in tracking systematics is surely a poor indication of it’s overall mission competence.

      1. Not tongue in cheek at all. It’s not just the systematics literature, which I don’t expect extermination companies to follow. It’s *all* the literature, and most of Orkin’s online competitors, too. I don’t expect wonders out of a corporation, but slop like this is a mark of how little they actually care about craftsmanship in their products.

        1. Perhaps the people at Orkin do not share Steve’s hypotheses or are revolting against egghead changing of established names (as with the Med-Vet revolt against Stegomyia or the Drosophila kerfuffle). But when even Wikipedia gets it right and Google out polls Iridomyrmex humilis with Linepithema humile by amost 6 to 1, then I think sloppiness is the most reasonable conclusion.

  3. I like the notes under “appearance”…
    According to this, I estimate at least a third of all species are Argies. 😛

  4. The scientific name doesn’t really have any bearing on how to kill it. Also, not to make excuses for them, but think of all the literature that does refer to it under the deprecated synonym. There are even plenty of museum collections searchable online that have deprecated names in them. In some ways, the onus is on the taxonomic community for not making it easier to find the current names (although in this case it is readily accessible). One could also see this as a situation of penalizing someone for trying to bring science into their non-scientific arena, because they could have just said Argentine ant and left it at that.

    On the flip-side, I don’t really have a problem with calling someone out for BS marketing, and if they want to seem scientific, then they should really back that up. In the case of synonyms like this, things do change a lot, so I’m less inclined to be nitpicky about it. Overall, I would have to be more knowledgeable about the advances in pest control since 1992 and how much any insect control is species-specific to know whether it has any impact on their effectiveness. I would guess it probably doesn’t make a difference.

  5. At least they got the Argentine part right. I decided to google the countries of South America with the word Ant afterward. These are the first ants that came up by image search.

    The Bolivia Ant = Bullet Ant, Paraponera clavata
    The Paraguay Ant = Army Ant, Eciton vagans
    The Uruguay Ant = Solenopsis daguerrei
    The Chile Ant = Camponotus leonardi
    The Brazil Ant = Dinoponera sp.
    The Peru Ant = Atta laevigata (also a tasty snack.)
    The Ecuador Ant = Procryptocerus sp.
    The Colombia Ant = Atta sp. again. (They eat them there too.)
    The Venezuela Ant = Odontomachus chelifer
    The Guyana Ant = (What is this?)
    The Suriname Ant = Eciton sp.

  6. How about the link to info on the dreaded “Boric Acid Argintine Ant”? I wouldn’t want to run into one of those guys in a dark alley.

Leave a Reply