Saturday, 01 June 2013 00:37

Crazy Ant Invades America

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Crazy ant invades texasIn 2002 a single trail of the invasive crazy ant from South America showed up in Houston, Texas. In a year there were 100s of millions of them. Now they've been reported in 24 Texas counties. They have been confirmed in Missisppi, Louisiana, and Florida. Crazy!

These crazy ants are tough. No Achilles heel has been found for them yet. Another species of the bug world who so far is pretty much pesticide resistant. People in the south are wanting their fire ants back, even though the fireants sting is very painful, they usually leave you alone unless you step on their mound. The crazy ant on the other hand is literally crazy! They have no centralized colony, making their nests anywhere and everywhere, killing off native species, invading and disrupting your electronics. They kill small animals through suffocation. They infest your electronics and appliances, driving homeowners crazy! They have shut down a chemical plant by invading their computer systems. You can't watch tv for ants crawling over you. According to Texas A & M university they cause about $126 million dollars annually as millions of ants seeking warmth get electrocuted in small circuitry and wiring. Some home owners can not even let their dogs go outside without fear and apprehension.

Crazy ant invades floridaA Texas pest exterminator Tom Raspberry is credited with identifying these terrible little beasts in 2002, now known as the raspberry crazy ant or tawny crazy ant. Tom Raspberry has been able to fight them off and exterminate two colonies with the poisonous chemical Termidor (fipronil). It was approved for emergencies only by the EPA in Texas. If not used correctly Timdor can be deadly for bees, birds and all aquatice life.

Scientists from North and South America know very little about the crazy ant. In Columbia the crazy ant has wiped out all other species of ants. They can aphyxiate small and large animals by attacking the mouth, nose and hooves. They have made  entire grasslands dry up. They have gone 18 inches wide up a tree going after honey bees. They are less than an 1/8 of an inch long and there are other similiar species, but the crazy ant is one that gives the experts nightmares. The only good thing about them is that they don't sting.

If a neighborhood is attacked, every single home is that area must be treated or the ants will be back within days. They die off in the winter as they are a tropical species but they will be back in the spring, doubling or tripling their numbers every two weeks Raspberry said.

Texas A&M University Robert Puckett is a researcher, teacher and a PHD in entomology was among the first to study the crazy ant. He says that crazy ants swarm in such numbers it is hard to believe. The catastophic impact these ants could have on the economy, the ecosystem and agriculture keeps him awake at night.

They can climb trees and invade bird nest,what if they attacked a chicken farm or infested food silos, or agricultual fields, attacked liestock. Raspberry is more outspoken than Puckett he is horrified by the possibilities. There is no funding to research these crazy ants. Nothing to stop them. They can hitch a ride on anything, cargo ships, luggage, trucks.

If the average homeowner gets invaded he goes out and buys pesticides that don't work, so he doubles or even triples the amount of poison and then it rains and all those chemicals get washed into the water table. Imagine that times 1000s of frustrated homeowners trying to kill ants that won't die.

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They have attacked commercial honey growers. The will destroy your Iphone, destroy your air conditioning in the summer time and make going outside for a picnic or barbecue a thing of the past. They'll get into wall sockets, security systems, computer systems, refridgerators, tv sets and they get electrocuted. When they die they emit a pheromone that attracts other ants and they respond in mass numbers. Their carcasses form bridges that the living ants use to cross over to safety, the same thing happens when using pesticides.

Puckett has witnessed how the crazy ants have changed human behavior, when getting permission for smapling in peoples yards who had been infected, he noticed how they had developed tics, of brushing away imaginary ants off shoulders, if people were barefooted they kept rubbing their feet against the other. A lot of people are uncomfortable letting their children play outside. Their dogs won't go potty outside, not because of getting bitten or stung, but they were just too uncomfortable have hundreds of ants crawling on them.

Crazy ants are traveling faster and farther than fireants did 50 years ago when they were first inroduced.  The focus has to be to suppress them for now, since a target pesticide hasn't been found for them. It will be very difficult since they can nest almost anywhere, they have multiple queens, they intermingle with other colonies and they cooperate with other colonies when they come in contact. They join forces!

Read 7696 times Last modified on Thursday, 21 November 2013 02:25
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