The tawny crazy ant was first discovered in the United States way back in 1938. This first crazy ant specimen found in the US was collected from Brownsville, Texas, where crazy ant populations are still high in number today. Tawny crazy ants are known by many common names, such as “rasberry crazy ants” and simply “crazy ants”. Crazy ant populations in the US did not become large enough to pose a significant threat until the early 2000s when numerous colonies were found within 27 counties located in southeastern Texas. Since then, the crazy ant has established an invasive presence within every one of the Gulf Coast states. In addition to the many unique and costly forms of damage that these ants inflict within homes, to the ecosystem and to infrastructure, these ants also seem to be resistant to the typical types of bait used to control other invasive ant species, such as red fire ants. All over-the-counter insecticides are worthless against infestations of these ants, and there is currently only one chemical insecticide that has proven effective at controlling crazy ant populations. But this chemical, fipronil, is heavily regulated and its use is strictly limited to areas that are affected by destructive forms of crazy ant activity.
Crazy ants have long been causing serious problems within structures such as houses, apartments and buildings within the state of Texas. For example, several years ago in Austin, numerous crazy ant infestations were reported within several homes, businesses and apartments. The crazy ants that had been infesting these structures caused many appliances of all kinds to stop working after the insects made their way into the internal machinery where they damaged wires and caused short circuits that resulted in temporary power loss. Most notable were the scores of air conditioners in Austin that became worthless after swarms consisting of thousands of crazy ants accessed the internal compartments of these air conditioners. Once the ants gained access to the internal wiring within these air conditioners, they caused circuits to short out by using their own bodies to redirect electrical currents. Researchers are not yet in full agreement concerning the reasons for this ant species’ natural attraction to electrical equipment.
Are crazy ants a threat to homes and infrastructure within the area of the country where you reside?