Tawny Crazy Ants So Bad, Some Wish for the Return of Fire Ants

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Yes, that’s right. In some places in Texas, the invasion of tawny crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva) is worse than the red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) that it has replaced. Yes, that’s right, too: the crazy ant displaces the fire ant. Both are from South America, where they naturally compete and are kept in check by the full ant community there. The crazy ant has evolved resistance to the fire ant’s venom, which combined with its ability to form large, multi-queen colonies and the absence of other population control factors, allows them to outcompete the red fire ant here in Texas.

It’s the crazy ant’s ability to form huge colonies, rather than a sting or bite, that makes it such a nuisance. It will nest in any cavity and literally take over buildings, swarming inside and wreaking havoc with electronics, air conditiontawny-crazy-anting units, and wiring. Outside, “they drive out almost all other bugs, including spiders, through sheer weight of numbers… Even nesting songbirds can be overrun by crazy ants.”

In order to learn more about the crazy ant as part of efforts to control it, researchers at the University of Texas Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) are focusing on its behavior, and on a species of fungus and of phorid fly that are potential biological control agents.

Learn more about the tawny crazy ant and the research at the BFL in this very interesting American-Statesman article.

For video, see these stories on Austin’s KVUE and Dallas’ NBCDFW.com.

Because of its potential negative impacts in Texas, the tawny crazy ant is a Report It! species as part of the Sentinel Pest Network, a component of Texasinvasives.org. If you believe you have found tawny crazy ants, please report this species. Please also contact your local AgriLife Extension agent, as well.

Follow this link to learn more about the tawny crazy ant.