Crazy Ants Are Invading the South

From a USA Today article on “Crazy Ants”

crazy antsThis summer, many southern states may experience an infest of ants that have been deemed “crazy.” Edward LeBrun, a University of Texas research associate who studies the species, warns people that these ants are truly pests and incredibly hard to get rid of.

The ants are reddish-brown, about an eighth of an inch long, and are called crazy because their movements and swarming populations are unpredictable. They will nest anywhere, but tend to seek warmth in small electrical circuits or wires. Because they choose these places to nest, they’re often electrocuted and cause about $146.5 million in electrical damages every year.

How They Got Here

Crazy ants can be easily transported and were brought into the US by humans from South America. So far the ants have traveled to Texas, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, but South Carolina may not be far behind.

Susan and Paul Dans, a couple in Baytown, Texas, has struggled with a crazy ant infestation since 2011. Millions of ants invaded their 3-acre lot and they had trouble keeping the ants at bay, despite spraying them with chemicals every two weeks. There were so many ants, it was hard to walk or stand outside – they couldn’t even let their dog out.

Why They’re Dangerous

Right now there is no permanent solution to getting rid of crazy ants – typical insecticides don’t work. Tom Raspberry, however (the man credited with identifying the crazy ants), has been able to ward them off and eliminate an entire colony on two occasions using Termidor (initially used for termites).

“We can kill them,” he says. “But unless you control the entire area, the best we can do is keep them at bay.”

The Dans are still getting treatments for the ants every three months (which costs them about $2,300 a year), but can only afford 1 acre of their property. Their other 2 acres are wasting away and decreasing their property value.

Crazy ants are displacing other aggressive species like fire ants. In Colombia, they’ve taken over every type of ant species and have killed small animals by asphyxiation. Crazy ants don’t have nasty stingers like fire ants, but they do bite, and they’ve attacked the eyes, noses, and hooves of larger animals like horses and cows.

For right now, the best thing you can do is avoid transporting them by closely monitoring your belongings and taking advantage of treatments until we have more answers. If left untreated, they’ll reproduce into the millions.

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