There are very few (if any) species of ant out there that people actually like. For a long time the fire ant enjoyed top billing as the most destructive and invasive species. Now, though, it looks like there is another type of ant that will win that title and it is called, appropriately, the Crazy Ant. In some places it is called the Raspberry Crazy Ant after the exterminator who "discovered" them and brought them to the attention of scientists and the government. In scientific circles and outside of Iowa Colony, Texas, the same ant is called the Tawny Crazy Ant. Whatever you want to call it, the "crazy" part is right.
What is a Crazy Ant?
Crazy ants are a species of ant thought to have originated in Brazil that is invading and taking over the Gulf regions of Texas, Florida and other bordering states. They were first spotted a few years ago and have steadily and alarmingly been marching outward ever since. At first glance they might look like reddish sugar ants. They're tiny—about an eighth of an inch big—and swarm in extremely large numbers. They get the name "crazy" because unlike other ants that are known for traveling in lines, these ants move in unpredictable patterns, making it hard to track them back to their "home bases." It is not uncommon to find piles of billions of them swarming around and up and over each other, looking like piles of squirming top soil.
What Do the Crazy Ants Want?
Another feature in their "crazy" moniker is that the things that attract "typical" ants: wood fibers, sugar and other sweet smells and foods have little to no effect on these ants. These ants are found more often in the electrical workings of homes and belongings. While scientists think they are drawn to the warmth of the electrical currents that pass through homes and other devices, some think that they might actually be attracted to the electricity itself. Whatever their motivation, these ants invade wiring systems (house-bound and device-bound alike) by the millions, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage by shorting out electrical devices and wiring systems.
What Can You Do If You Find Them?
Once you find these ants the only realistic way to fight back against them is to call an exterminator or professional to help you kill the creatures that have invaded as well as any eggs that may have been laid; their queens seem particularly indestructible. Don't try to take them on yourself unless you have experience in professional levels of pest control.
How Do You Discourage Crazy Ants and Keep Them Out of Your Stuff?
Experts agree that some of the best things you can do to keep crazy ants at bay involve keeping any vegetation on your property well away from your actual home or pathways into it. Be sure to seal all of the cracks and crevices in and on the outside of your home and keeping your home as clean and sealed up as possible. A publication from the State of Texas also stresses the importance of carefully inspecting everything you buy before you bring it into your home or onto your property to make sure that you aren't accidentally bringing crazy ants home with you. It is also important to inspect luggage and other items you may have been traveling with—especially if you've been traveling within the gulf region.
Many ant exterminators and experts will say that if you notice huge swarms it might actually be too late for you to do anything about the infestation—even on the professional level. This is why as soon as you see even one crazy ant you should get a professional onto your property to make sure that any colonies that might be setting up are wiped out before they can really take hold.