Crazy, raspberry ants are swarming into Texas – and they’re taking no prisons. They are destroying property and attacking humans. There have been 67 lethal attacks in the last two weeks.
The Crazy Ant Poison that U.S. Exterminators use only stops them for a day, and then a fresh horde shows up, bringing babies. You can’t escape these ants. Once they target you or your property – they are relentless and will send millions of troops to get you
The ants have also taken down huge industrial plants and have attacked farm animals. Over 3,000 cows and pigs have been killed by the crazy ants so far.
Controlling them can cost millions of dollars. And there’s no surefire way of controlling them.
“Months later, I could close my eyes and see them moving,” said Jack Mooney, who curates the ant, mosquito and scarab collections at the Texas State Entomological Museum at the University of Texas.
He’s been back to check on the hairy crazy ants. They’re still around. The occupant isn’t. Ant death.
Mooney himself was attacked himself and may have to have his legs and right arm amputated.
This entomologist, Mary Hillstrom, was attacked by the Crazies after she gave a lecture on how to fight them.
The flea-sized critters are called crazy because each forager scrambles randomly at a speed that your average picnic ant, marching one by one, reaches only in video fast-forward. They’re called hairy because of fuzz that, to the naked eye, makes their abdomens look less glossy than those of their slower, bigger cousins.
The “Crazies” on the move from Texas to Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. Some of the ants have taken over some motorcycles (it takes about 2.3 million of them to drive it.)
The ants also overwhelm beehives – one Texas beekeeper was losing 1o,ooo a year in 2010. They short out industrial equipment.
If one gets electrocuted, its death releases a chemical cue to attack a threat to the colony, said Roger Gold, an entomology professor at Texas A&M.
“The other ants rush in. Before long, you have a wall of ants,” he said.
A computer system controlling pipeline valves shorted out twice in about 35 days, but monthly treatments there now keep the bugs at bay, said exterminator Tom Rasberry, who found the first Texas specimens of the species in the Houston area in 2002.
Compared to other ants, these need overkill- and usually even that doesn’t work. For instance, Gold said, if 100,000 are killed by pesticides, billions more will follow.
“I did a test site with a product early on and applied the product to a half-acre … In 30 days I had two inches of dead ants covering the entire half-acre,” Rasberry said. “It looked like the top of the dead ants was just total movement from all the live ants on top of the dead ants.”
The ants are probably native to South America, MacGown said. But they were recorded in the Caribbean by the late 19th century, said Jeff Keularts, an extension associate professor at the University of the Virgin Islands. That’s how they got the nickname “Caribbean crazy ants.” They’ve also become known as Rasberry crazy ants, after the exterminator.