Paratrechina species near pubens
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|Paratrechina cf. pubens|
The species has been named "crazy" because of the ants' random, nonlinear movements, and "Rasberry" after the exterminator Tom Rasberry who first noticed they were a problem in 2002. Scientists believe they are related to the Caribbean crazy ant. This ant has yet to be identified as a species due to confusion regarding the taxonomy of the genus, and has for now been scientifcally named Paratrechina species near pubens. There is currently a large infestation in at least 11 counties in Texas. The ants appear to prefer the warmth and moistness of the coast.
The ants are about 3 millimeters long (equivalent of one-eighth inch) and are covered with reddish-brown hairs. The colonies have multiple queens. They feed on ladybugs, fire ants and Attwater's prairie chicken hatchlings, as well as plants. They are able to out-compete fire ants because they reproduce faster. The ants are not attracted to ordinary ant baits, are not controlled by over-the-counter pesticides, and are harder to fully exterminate because their colonies have multiple queens.
Attraction to electrical equipment
It is unclear why this species, like many varieties of ants, is attracted to electrical equipment, including computers and air conditioners. It may be that they sense the magnetic field that surrounds wires with electric current flowing through them. Or, they might prefer the heat byproduct of resistance in the wires. However, it could simply be that they are searching for food or a nesting location that is easy to defend.
Their infestation of electrical equipment can cause short circuits when they chew through insulation. Overheating and mechanical failures can also be caused by high numbers of dead workers in electrical devices.
The coverage rate of the ant itself is about 800 meters (about ½ US mile) per year. However, being carried by people, animals, and vehicles, the Crazy Rasberry Ant has covered five counties in Texas from 2002 to 2007. This yields a rate of 8 kilometers (about 5 US miles) per year. At this accelerated rate, it would take about 70 years for them to reach New Orleans, 563 kilometers (or 350 US miles) away.
In June 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency granted temporary approval for the use of fipronil to control this ant. The pesticide is already used for termite control. Its use is restricted to 7 counties in the Houston, Texas area. As of May 2009, the ants continue to spread and have reportedly caused millions of dollars in damage in 11 Texas counties.
- ^ a b Ayres, Chris (2008-05-16). "Billions of electronic-eating 'crazy Rasberry ants' invade Texas". Times UK. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3941545.ece.
- ^ "Crazy Rasberry ant". Ant-maps.com. http://ant-maps.com/Crazy-Rasberry-ant.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
- ^ "Caribbean Crazy Ant, Paratrechina sp. near pubens". Center for Urban & Structural Entomology - Texas A&M University - Department of Entomology (Texas A&M University). http://urbanentomology.tamu.edu/ants/exotic_tx.cfm. Retrieved 2008-09-26.
- ^ a b "Destructive ants marching on San Antonio". http://www.kens5.com/homepage/tab1/stories/KENS20090518-Crazy_Ants.16288c43.html. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- ^ a b A Pest Without a Name, Becoming Known to Ever More, The New York Times, May 16, 2008
- ^ Exotic Texas Ant, Center for Urban & Structural Entomology, Texas A&M University, Department of Entomology, retrieved 2008-05-15
- ^ Ants swarm over Houston area, fouling electronics, Yahoo News, 15 May 2008.
- ^ Can Ants Eat Your Computer: Why the "crazy rasberry" ant infests electronic devices., Slate, 20 May 2008.
- ^ Computers at risk from Crazy Raspberry [sic] ants, Techworld, 16 May 2008
- ^ Pesticide for SE Texas 'crazy' ants approved by EPA, Houston Chronicle, 2008-07-01, retrieved 2008-07-01