Crazy ants might disrupt things in the Southeastern United States

Said to be "much bigger pests” than fire ants.
Posted By Evan Bleier   |   Oct. 28, 2013 at 9:38 AM   |   Comments

(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 house plants.

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 invasive 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 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.”

“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.

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