Crazy Ants: Terrible Guests Making Their Way To Your Hometown

Posted on: 13 January 2015

You have guests on the way. These guests respect no boundaries, have no manners, and will raid your pantry bare before moving on to your garden... and perhaps even your pets or livestock. Who are these merciless guests? They're crazy ants -- a unicolonial ant species native to Argentina and Brazil.  

United They Stand

Unicolonial is a pretty self-explanatory word; it means one single colony. Crazy ants don't waste any time fighting among each other. If one army of crazy ants comes in contact with another army, they join forces. Then, the newly formed, bigger army of ants will go on to find another group of crazy ants and enlist them, as well. 

Just how big can a colony of unicolonial ants get? There's one colony that starts in Spain, travels all the way through France, and ends in Italy. That's an army three countries strong and still growing.

Ants Behaving Badly

Crazy ants don't have stingers, and you can barely feel their bite. What makes these visitors terrible is their sheer numbers. When these things show up, they show up by the millions. They eat moisture-promoting plants and dry out acres upon acres of farmland. They drive birds and other small wildlife from their nesting spots. There have even been reports of the ants attacking livestock, traveling to the mouths and noses of the animals by the millions and causing asphyxiation.

As if their ecological effect wasn't enough, crazy ants bring another peculiar problem -- $146.5 million dollars in electrical damage annually.

These ants like warm, tight, confines, and electrical boxes fill that desire well. They'll pack themselves inside the metal boxes so tightly that eventually, a few of them get electrocuted. Once that happens, they send out pheromone alarms to any other crazy ants in the vicinity that the colony is under attack and all ants should report to the danger zone to fight. And so, more ants come, more electrical circuitry is damaged, and the cycle continues. 

Moving On Up

Crazy ants first appeared in the United States in 2002 when they were accidentally brought here on a cargo ship from the Caribbean. Since then, they've spread across Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia. 

Since these ants have no natural predators in the United States, scientists aren't sure just how far north they'll travel. One thing they will say with certainty, though, is that the time to act against this invasive species is now, before they make it to your region.

Stopping The Madness  

Getting rid of crazy ants is quite a challenge, so your best course of action is to take preventative measures against them. Keep any household garbage sealed in metal or plastic bins and be diligent about cleaning up leaves, fallen branches, and other organic matter around your yard.

If you travel to an area known to have crazy ants, check your vehicle and all of your belongings thoroughly for any little ant-hitchhikers before returning home.

If crazy ants do make their way to your property, you simply cannot fight the problem alone. These ants have no interest in conventional ant-killing bait, and they've been known to actually build bridges out of their fallen brethren in order to bypass common insecticide sprays.

So far, the only effective way to exterminate these little buggers is by using a special high-powered insecticide spray. This spray can not be purchased at your local box or hardware store -- it's approved in some locations for emergency use by the Environmental Protection Agency and is only available to pest control professionals. 

Crazy ants are spreading farther and farther across the country, and it's likely that they'll soon make it to your region. Do all that you can to deter them and if they do show up, contact a professional pest control service to set up an extermination plan immediately.