Ants are the most frequently encountered insects in both outdoor and indoor environments, and some species are stubborn pests of homes that can be a struggle to control. More than 1,000 ant species have been documented as inhabiting the US, but most of these species remain outdoors and are not accustomed to living in close association with humans. However, due to their small size, highly populated colonies, cryptic habitat, and advanced social behaviors, ant pests are highly resistant to pest control tactics. It is well known that ant pests can gain indoor access by traveling through excessively narrow cracks and crevices on the exterior walls of homes, but most ant pest species are also capable of nesting indoors. Ant pests prefer to nest within dark, moist and well-concealed indoor spaces, most notably within wall voids. Strangely, a significant number of ant pest species are also known for nesting within electrical devices and equipment, such as televisions, fuse boxes, air conditioners, security systems, and many other devices, which has led to short circuits, black-outs, and millions of dollars in damages.
Incidents of ant pests nesting within electrical systems is particularly well documented in regards to red-imported fire ants. Entire colonies consisting of thousands of individual fire ants have infested junction boxes, transformer boxes, circuit breakers, electrical outlets, appliances and more. Since red-imported fire ants are soil-dwelling pests, they naturally transport soil into the electrical systems that they infest, and the ants themselves are often electrocuted by bridging switching mechanisms. Workers also chew on insulation, and increase moisture within devices, resulting in short-circuits, black-outs, and total system failures. When workers are electrocuted, their chemical pheromones radiate into the air, which attracts additional workers to the corpse before they too are electrocuted. A 2001 study revealed that red-imported fire ant damage to electrical and communications equipment costs 146.5 million dollars per year in Texas alone. A subsequent study on the same topic calculated the nationwide cost of such damage as exceeding 640 million dollars. In addition to invasive fire ants, native southern fire ants, and golden fire ants have also completely destroyed electrical equipment in Texas. Another invasive ant pest species, the Tawny crazy ant, regularly nests within electrical equipment, which has been known to cost homeowners several thousand dollars in remedial costs. These ants pests have also infested electronic circuit boards in vehicles, which has made the Tawny crazy ant the prime suspect in electrical airbag failures. Other ant pests that are known for nesting within and damaging electrical systems include carpenter ants, acrobat ants, and thief ants.
Have you ever witnessed an ant enter or exit a wall outlet, TV or any other electrical device?