Tawny Crazy Ants – Reynolds Pest Management

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 Tawny Crazy Ants

tawny crazy ants, tawny crazy ants

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There is a growing epidemic eating its way across the Gulf coast of the United States and it seems little can be done to combat the problem. The invasive ant species , Nylandria fulva, commonly known as tawny crazy ants, hairy crazy ant, or Raspberry crazy ant is causing big problems for people in at least four states around the Gulf of Mexico.  The species was first spotted in Houston, Texas by a pest control technician in 2002 and has subsequently been seen in Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. It is an exotic species native to South America, specifically Argentina and Brazil. In Florida some reports have estimated that N. Fulva has plagued the Sunshine State since the 1990s, pushing out the crazy ant’s native cousin, N. pubens.

The ant is named “crazy” for the path of destruction it leaves behind. The tiny insect ( less than 1/8 an inch long) are known to eat everything from livestock to electrical equipment. Singularly, these ants may not seem so harmful, but at times millions have been found hiding under rocks, inside computers and elsewhere, devouring everything it touches.

The ant is known in at least 21 counties in Texas and 20 in Florida. They are transported to all areas unknowingly by humans. While its bite is not known for stinging, it is highly invasive and has infested homes, RVs, computers, laptops, smart phones, and wildlife across the south.

Edward LeBrun of the University of Texas, Austin, said these invasive pests are displacing fire ants in areas across the southeastern United States. They are also reducing diversity and abundance across a range of other ant and arthropod species. He said their spread can be controlled if people are more careful when they travel.

LeBrun, who is a research associate with the Texas invasive species research program at the Breckenridge Field Laboratory in the College of Natural Sciences, published a study on the invasive ant species in April 2013’s issue of Biological invasions.

People would rather have their fire ants back. They are realizing they were relatively calm compared to the tawny crazy ants, according to LaBrun. Fire ants 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 in their mound.

Tawny Crazy ants, unlike the fire ants, “ go everywhere.” They are the worst of all ant invasions seen in the U.S. to date.

In the late 1800s, the Argentine ant invaded the U.S. through the port of New Orleans. In 1918 the black imported fire ant showed up in Alabama. In the 1930s the red imported fire ant arrived and began displacing the black fire ant and the Argentine ant, according to LeBrun.

In the tawny crazy ants native habitat, Argentina and Brazil, it is likely that the population is held in check by other ant species and a variety of predators that feed on them. However, in the U.S. there are no such natural predators, and the U.S. native ant species are not as aggressive as those farther south.

Another issue that has arisen is the fact these crazies are much harder to kill than other ants. Most colony ants are controlled by placing poison baits out, where they go and consume them and bring the death to the colony. Tawny crazy ants do not fall for this trick. Because the tawny crazy ant does not have particular boundary, if they are in fact killed  in a certain area, the sheer size of the super colony survives and can fill back in the area that was wiped out.

The biggest threat from N. fulva is the threat to electronics. According to ABC News, the tawny crazy ants have caused more than 146.5 million in damages to electrical equipment in one year alone, just in Texas.

But with electronics, the whole ordeal seems rather tragic, not just for the electrical equipment , but for the ant as well. For example: when an ant touches a hot wire, it will be electrocuted. When this occurs, the ant immediately performs what is called gaster flagging, which is an instinctual move that releases pheromones, luring more of its relatives to the scene. As each of these ants arrive and touch either the dead ant or another wire, they too will fry and release pheromones. Eventually, with so many ants arriving on the scene, circuits get overloaded and short out.

Cutting down on the number of transplantation events could slow the spread of the insects by decades, said LeBrun. The extra time could be enough to give the ecosystem time to adapt to the insect and researchers more time to develop better control techniques.

Tawny Crazy Ants present in your home are controllable with the help of our licensed, bonded, and insured team. We use state of the art equipment and techniques to provide thorough inspections and satisfaction in removing any of these invaders.

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