Crazy ants are making the U.S. Gulf Coast go, well, crazy.
Officially known as ‘Tawny crazy ants’ or Rasberry Crazy Ants and discovered in the U.S. in 2002 in Houston. They have now since then spread to 21 counties in Texas, 20 counties in Florida and in southern Mississippi and Louisiana.
It wasn’t until 2012 that the ants were formally identified as Nylanderia fulva, which are a native ant to northern Argentina and southern Brazil.
Researchers at the University of Texas warn that these crazy ants can potentially change the ecological balance in the southeastern United States, mostly because the ants wipe out other colonies of fire ants.
Ed LeBrun, a research associate with the Texas invasive species research program at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory in the College of Natural Sciences says, “Perhaps the biggest deal is the displacement of the fire ant, which is the 300-pound gorilla in Texas ecosystems these days. The whole system has changed around fire ants. Things that can’t tolerate fire ants are gone. Many that can have flourished. New things have come in. Now we are going to go through and whack the fire ants and put something in its place that has a very different biology. There are going to be a lot of changes that come from that.”
Crazy ants go everywhere and anywhere, while fire ants may live in your yard but aren’t invasive. LeBrun says “Fire ants are in many ways very polite. They live in your yard. They form mounds and stay there, and they only interact with you if you step on their mound.”
Keeping the Crazy ant populations down is difficult because, unlike fire ants, the crazy ants don’t consume most of the poisonous baits that are used to eliminate fire ant mounds, LeBrun said.
“They don’t sting like fire ants do, but aside from that they are much bigger pests,” LeBrun said. “There are videos on YouTube of people sweeping out dustpans full of these ants from their bathroom. You have to call pest control operators every three or four months just to keep the infestation under control. It’s very expensive.”
Unfortunately, the crazy ants aren’t kept in check here in the States like they are in their native land. “In their native lands, crazy ant populations are kept under control by a natural system of checks and balances; there are species that prey on the crazy ants and they face competition from other ant species. But in America, the crazy ants are reining supreme, having no competition from other ant populations and few natural enemies,” LaBrun said.
The findings are published in the journal Biological Invasions. Researchers plan to continue studying crazy ants.
Crazy Rasberry Ants
2 news stories about the invasion of crazy ants in Houston, TX.
Houston Infected By Electronic-Eating Ants
Houston has been hit with a computer bug like no other: a swarm of ants that are eating through electronics. The “Crazy Raspberry Ants” are believed to have arrived in Texas aboard a cargo ship, and are causing widespread mayhem. For some unknown reason they are attracted to electrical equipment, which is causing problems for residents in the Deep South.
Crazy Ants in Texas
The Rasberry Crazy Ant is a tiny terror treading all over Texas. Meet the exterminator leading the charge to stop this insect plague from spreading.
Fire ants vs. Rasberry Crazy Ants
Fire ants versus a new invasive ant species in Texas.
First, video footage of a captive fire ant colony defending against the crazy ants. The crazy ants are extremely fast, so the fire ants take a while to react and have trouble cornering them. Second, video of a captive crazy ant colony defending against fire ants. They quickly surround and spray the intruders with venom.