Crazy ants are so named because of their frantic movements and erratic behavior. While this species originated in Southeast Asia, it is known worldwide as an invasive species and environmental pest. Adult crazy ants are dark brown to black in color and measure approximately 2.2 to 3 mm in length. Crazy ants’ antennae have 12 segments without a club, and their antennae are elongated. Crazy ants’ legs are extremely long and give it a very distinct appearance. Crazy ants are highly versatile, living in both moist and dry habitats. They nest in rotten wood, soil, the cavities of trees and plants, trash and under rocks and buildings.
Crazy ants may be more difficult to control than other ant species because they dwell both indoors and outdoors. In addition, crazy ants forage long distances from their nests, making it difficult to identify their colonies.
Ants of any species when numerous will naturally adapt foraging activity and randomly will get into the switch boxes, or transformers, etc. They are shocked when they come between live contacts, at which time the pheromone attraction is initiated. Crazy ants have been documented to cause sprinkler irrigation system control boards to malfunction in Florida. On a circuit board, short circuits may be caused when ants conduct electricity between different circuits. Another documented case involved these ants causing an air conditioner unit to malfunction in Austin (Travis County), Texas, resulting in replacement of the entire switching mechanism at a cost of $196.54
Crazy ants in Texas, Nylanderia fulva, the “tawny’ crazy ant, previously referred to as the rasberry crazy ant, Nylanderia (previouslyParatrechina) species near pubens, has caused serious problems with electrical utilities in the industrial parks near Houston (Harris County), Texas. These ants become abundant in localized areas or spots of infestation. Like other ants, large numbers of shocked ants cause short circuits and clog switching mechanisms in security systems, pumps, and other equipment.
Let’s have a look at how destructive these ants are in our day to day living.
THERE ARE ‘KILLER CRAZY ANTS’ IN BIRMINGHAM WHICH ARE ‘ADDICTED’ TO ELECTRICITY
By BREITBART LONDON 18 Aug 2015
This, according to the Birmingham Mail, is a new development in the West Midlands’ pest problems, and they hail from one of Britain’s worst enemies: Argentina.
The Mail reports:
They bite, they sting and they spread salmonenlla.
Pest control experts have now issued an alert over two extremely unwelcome species – “crazy” and “Argentinian” ants. They say multi-occupancy buildings, such as hotels and guest houses, are particularly at risk.
Crazy ants – given the name because of their jerky movement – are covered in red hair and get a real buzz from electricity, chewing through insulation for a light lunch.
The Argentinian variety is particularly vicious, attacking crops and animals. Almost black and 3mm long, they form large colonies in cracks in walls and between timbers.
The alert has been issued by Basis Prompt, a register of Birmingham and West Midlands pest control companies.
Expert David Cross told The Birmingham Mail the new arrivals are the latest additions to a growing list of fearsome tropical ants that have colonised our region.
Last year Scientific American wrote about how the Crazy Ants were winning the turf war against the cousins in the United States, claiming:
Crazy ants produce chemicals they then rub on themselves as an antidote to fire ant venom. And the acidic substance exuded from where a stinger would be located on other ant species also doubles as a chemical weapon they spray at foes, allowing the crazy ants to defeat competitors that would otherwise help keep them in check.
They are notoriously hard to kill, too. Reuters reports:
The researchers reported last year that in places where crazy ants arrive, creatures such as insects, spiders, centipedes and crustaceans decline, which could affect ecosystems by reducing food sources for other animals. The ants also nest in people’s houses and harm electrical equipment.
The New York Daily News writes:
The ants usually chew through wires in machines, electrocuting themselves in the process. But the dead ants emit a perfume which attracts even more aggressive ants to the machinery, leading to more damage.
MacKay (1988) described the way in which ants impact electrical equipment. However, some controversy continues as to why ants are attracted to electrical circuits and switching mechanisms. According to Dr. S. Bradleigh Vinson’s description of Dr. MacKay’s work funded by the Texas Department of Transportation (pers. com.), when switches are open, foraging ants tend to stop in the presence of the electric field. If the researcher turned off the electricity, the ants simply moved on. Once an ant is shocked by touching body parts between an open switching mechanism individually or among a group of ants touching each other, the ants displayed shocked reactions and often waved their abdomen (gaster) in the air (called gaster flagging) to release pheromones (volatile chemical communication chemicals) that, in turn, attract other worker ants (Vandermeer et al. 2002). Arriving ants that touch shocked ants also get shocked. Therefore many, many ants accumulate around a point such as the switching mechanism in a traffic switch box, causing it to malfunction. This explanation does not address initial attraction to the electrical site. Possibly the ants through random foraging find their way into open switches and get shocked.
In the case of imported ants, another aspect of their behavior also causes problems to electrical equipment. Colonies move into utility housing and import soil in which to nest. The result is moisture build-up and corrosion of the housings, a problem frequently associated with malfunctioning transformer units. In addition, ants can chew through coatings protecting wires resulting in possible short circuits. The soil removed from underneath slabs can cause the slab to tilt. When this occurs with a transformer box, the oil in the unit can leak out.
Because the crazy ants wander in aimless movements instead of a straight trail, it may be difficult to locate a trail to treat. Look under rocks, stumps, landscape timbers, firewood, and any rotting wood. Crazy Ants forage over long distances, so it is important to search diligently. Traditional methods like spraying insecticides, pesticides, etc are used to control them, but this method is hazardous and may cause long-lasting consequences to the application
C Tech Corporation offers a non-toxic and non-hazardous product, Termirepel™ to protect the electrical application and cables from these ravenous insects. It is an environmentally safe product that works by repelling the insects without causing any harm to the target or non-target species. Termirepel™ is available in concentrate and lacquer form. It can also be used as a liquid solution. Termirepel™ can be safely incorporated into the PVC insulation of wires and cables or coated on surfaces to keep crazy ants away from the application. Termirepel™ can also be incorporated in agricultural films and mulches for the protection of trees and bushes against these creatures.