An invasive South American ant known as the “crazy ant” (Nylanderia fulva) has taken up residence along the Gulf Coast and literally chasing away our native fire ant. This “crazy ant,” also known as the raspberry or tawny ant that is normally found in Argentina and Brazil, was discovered back in 2002 by a pest control worker in the Houston, Texas area, and has spread all the way to Florida.
According to a researcher at the University of Texas, Edward Lebrun, this is an ecologically dominant ant that is wreaking havoc across such a diversity of ant and arthropod species that ecologically they are reducing diversity. Lebrun believes that this ant found its way through the ports of New Orleans not unlike the Argentine ant did back in the early 1890s. “When you talk to folks who live in the invaded areas, they tell you they want their fire ants back,” Dr. LeBrun commented, noting that these new crazy ants are considerably more aggressive, targeting virtually everything in their immediate environment — including electrical systems.
The crazy ant gets it name from the fact that it has unpredictable movements, meaning they go just about anywhere. Unlike its cousin the fire ant, crazy ants enter homes essentially infecting any space they can and in the process may damage electrical equipment. Furthermore, they are more difficult to get rid of. They simply do not respond to normal eradication procedures such as consuming baits that are poisonous and since they are not normally found here, they have no natural predators to keep them in check. Moreover, crazy ants will eat just about anything including ants and other insects.
UT researchers believe this will decrease biodiversity, affecting the entire ecosystem in the Gulf coast area.