The invasive Rasberry crazy ant has been frustrating homeowners in the Houston area. Besides being an annoyance to locals, the ant has the potential to damage electrical systems and decrease home and property values, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Since the pests were discovered in Texas in 2002, they have spread to multiple counties and do not appear to be slowing down.
The crazy ants do not sting or bite, and they tend to rid areas of fire ants because the two struggle to compete for food sources. The crazy ants tend to win, and the Austin American Statesman reported that they are causing more problems than the fire ants ever did.
Roger Gold, a professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, told the paper that families are already wishing the fire ants were back, as they struggle to rid their homes of the crazy ants.
One of the problems with the crazy ants is their ability to breed extremely quickly. A single colony often is home to millions of the pests, since multiple queens lay several hundred eggs.
"Their reproductive capability is astronomical compared to what we’re normally dealing with," Wizzie Brown, program specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Office, told Austin-area NPR affiliate KUT. "And the ant population can grow really large at certain times of the year. So we want people to keep an eye out for them, know about them and manage them properly so the populations don’t get that huge."
The enormous colonies are a serious problem, as they can cause expensive issues for homeowners and businesses. According to the Austin American Statesman, Gold said the ants have a habit of making their way into air conditioning units and getting electrocuted. The shock causes the ant to produce a pheromone that prompts the rest of the huge colony to invade the systems, which become so jammed with ants that they short out. The source said a local chemical plant that dealt with this problem suffered a $1 million loss.
Thousands of ants also invade homes in search of food. Homes are often easily accessible to them, since they tend to live under mulch, wood and other landscaping products in yards.
Because so many ants invade buildings at once, it is necessary to have pest control experts handle the situation. Exterminators can determine the best form of treatment depending on the severity of the crazy ant infestation.