The South American ant species known as N. fulva, or the crazy ant, was spotted for the first time on US soil in Houston back in 2002. Since then, this troublesome ant has established an invasive habitat in southeastern and parts of central Texas. These ants are unique for fitting just about every category of “pest” that has been established, as this species is an agricultural pest, yard pest, house pest, and a pest of medical significance to animals, including large livestock, like cows. Although the crazy ant does not infest structural wood like carpenter ants, swarms of these invasive ants do infest electrical devices like appliances, fuse boxes, electrical utility boxes, sewage pumps and power grids, making the insects “structural pests” as well. Basically, all types of electrical equipment can fail due to crazy ant infestations, and these types of infestations have been found within and near homes and buildings, sometimes causing power outages.
In 2014, crazy ants swarmed young school children that were on a field trip in Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco. It was during this time that park authorities discovered that crazy ants had killed off numerous insect and arachnid species within the park, including scorpions and tarantulas. The invasive ants even managed to blind rabbits and other animals by spraying their naturally occurring acid into their eyes. Enormous crazy ant nests had become established around the parks restrooms, posing a serious threat to visitors.
Unlike most ant species, crazy ants do not construct defined nests; instead, they simply gather in massive number over all types of natural and manmade surfaces. Residents living in areas of Texas where these ants have become established have found their homes inundated with these ants, causing widespread terror, but luckily, the bites these ants inflict to humans is not very painful.
In response to the crazy ant dispersal across southeastern Texas, a University of Texas researcher, Ed LeBraun, is determined to find a biological control method in the form of a crazy ant predator to control crazy ant populations before the insects make further advancements into urban and residential areas. Unfortunately, LeBraun claims that the insects probably cannot be eradicated from the state, but they can be controlled.
Have you ever encountered a swarm of crazy ants?