October 21, 2020

Crazy ants might disrupt things in the Southeastern United States


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Crazy AntBy Evan Bleier From upi

Said to be “much bigger pests” than fire ants.

(UPI) — University of Texas researchers are concerned that “crazy ants” are going to severely disrupt the environmental balance in the Southeastern United States by wiping out one of the region’s other pests, fire ants.

Crazy ants, also known as “Tawny crazy ants,” are capable of killing other insects and also starving out entire colonies. They multiply quickly and can nest in crawl spaces, walls and even houseplants.

Known for congregating around electrical equipment and wiring, the crazy ants can cause malfunctions and do massive damage.

But now officials are concerned about the fate of the fire ant.

“Perhaps the biggest deal is the displacement of the fire ant, which is the 300-pound gorilla in Texas ecosystems these days,” said Ed LeBrun, a research associate with the Texas invasi1 species research program.

“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 a 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.”

“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.”

After first appearing in Houston in 2002,crazy ants have been found in parts of Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. The aggressive ants have some people wishing they had their old insects back.

“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,” LeBrun said.

PHOTO: A longhorn crazy ant (CC/Erin Prado)

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Related story

Crazy ants spread towards Alabama

By Jonathan Owens From WKRG News

2957494_GThere’s a new pest in town, and this is his mug shot. [see photo]

A new strain of Caribbean crazy ants is only miles from the Alabama state line. Neighboring Jackson County, Mississippi just reported crazy ant infestations this week.

So what is this new strain of crazy ants? Ellen Huckaby with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System explains, “What makes them crazy, gives them the name crazy ant, is the way they move. If you’ve seen a line of sugar ants in your house, they march along in a nice straight line, and they move fairly slowly. But the crazy ants move around really quickly and erratically, so they move crazy and that’s where they get their name.”

What kind of concern does this new ant pose? Ellen told us, “They will bite but their bite is very minor and they’re not aggressive. The problem is in their numbers, where you’re talking about hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of fire ants, you’re talking about colonies of billions with the crazy ants.” That makes crazy ant colonies at least ten times bigger and up to one hundred times bigger than the average ant colony.

So what to if you find crazy ants in your backyard? You will need more than just a can of bug spray. You will have to call a professional exterminator. The EPA has approved short-term use of a powerful pesticide called fipronil to combat the problem.

Crazy ants appear to prefer the warm, rainy conditions on the Gulf Coast. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida all have reported infestations. The bottom line seems to be these ants aren’t dangerous as much as they’re just a hard pest to get rid of.

They could be coming soon, to a backyard near you.

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