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Latino Daily News

Monday October 3, 2011

South American ‘Hairy Crazy Ants’ Begin Invasion of Southern U.S.

South American ‘Hairy Crazy Ants’ Begin Invasion of Southern U.S.

Photo: South American ‘Hairy Crazy Ants’ Begin Invasion of Southern U.S.

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An invasion of sorts is occurring in the U.S.’s southern states, as insects known as ‘hairy crazy ants’ are making their way north. The ants are believed to be native to South America.

The ants are about the size of fleas and are said to be crazy because they are much quicker than the ants many are used to and they seem to move in random directions. They have been called hairy due to the fuzz that, to the naked eye, makes their abdomens look less glossy than those of their slower, bigger cousins.

What is so frightening about these ants is the fact that they eat almost anything, plant or animal, and that they do not run when attacked.

If one of these ants is electrocuted, the dead ant’s body releases a chemical that calls the other ants to attack the threat. If pesticides kill thousands, millions more arrive.

Roger Gold, an entomology professor at Texas A&M, said that when electrocuted, “the other ants rush in. Before long, you have a ball of ants.”

These ants have invaded industrial complexes, homes, and are being found in both rural and urban areas. The do not dig out ant hills like many ants. Instead, they prefer to reside in sheltered, moist spots.

So far, the ants have been reported in Florida, Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

In 2000, the ants were reported in 5 counties in the southern states, today, they can be found in 20, 18 of them being in Texas, 2 in Mississippi, and 1 in Louisiana.

The ants are believed to have come from South America, though records of their appearance in the Caribbean date back to the late 19th century. They have been called, ‘hairy crazy ants,’ ‘Caribbean crazy ants,’ and ‘Rasberry crazy ants.’ Tom Rasberry is an exterminator who is leading the fight against these insects in Mississippi.