Native to Africa, the yellow crazy ant has a long body and very long legs and antennae. Its name comes from its erratic walking style and frantic movements, especially when disturbed. But what’s really crazy about these ants is their odd attraction to electrical equipment. It’s estimated that every year, crazy ants cause more than $146 million in electrical damage. These ants, when electrocuted, release a scent (pheromone), providing a signal to other ants to rush to the scene to find the ‘attacker.’
Yellow crazy ants also damage natural environments, affect the horticulture industry, and cause skin and eye irritations.
The yellow crazy ant is listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive alien species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Knowing what these ants have done elsewhere gives us plenty of reasons to be worried if they aren’t eradicated.
The yellow crazy ant was introduced by accident to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean about 70 years back. It quickly got a foothold and started to take over. The devastating effects of the supercolonies on the island are readily apparent. These ants can overpower reptiles and coconut crabs. An estimated 20 million red crabs have been killed by these ants, about 30% of the island’s entire population! The ants succeed in their killing sprees by injecting formic acid into the eye of their victims. The acid is poisonous to the red crabs, and it blinds them leaving them to starve to death or be killed by predators. It was also introduced to Australia accidentally.
Crazy ants are highly adaptable, living in both moist and dry habitats. They establish their nests in the vicinity of trees and plants, inside rotten wood, under rock and trash, in the soil, and in the debris and residue of buildings standing for a long time. Crazy ants cannot survive extremely cold climates and may invade houses and buildings when the weather changes.
Crazy ants are omnivorous, feeding on both dead and living insects, honeydew produced from insects, fruits, plant secretions, seeds, and a variety of household food items such as sweets, meats, grease, and liquids.
The ants can be painful and dangerous to people and animals. They spray formic acid when disturbed, and it can be particularly painful if there is contact with the eyes. Spraying can cause skin burns and eye irritation in humans. The ants can kill a large animal in a mass attack. These ants are described as “scavenging predators”. They eat not only small isopods, myriapods, earthworms, mollusks, arachnids, and insects, but also large land crabs, birds, mammals, and reptiles.
The below-mentioned news is an evidence for same:
Invasive ‘crazy’ ant species discovered in New South Wales for first time in more than a decade
By Leah White, ABC North Coast │ May 25, 2018
An invasive ant species capable of causing blindness and decimating crops has been discovered infesting the CBD of a town on the north coast of New South Wales.
The Edmonton landholder said the ants wreak havoc on the environment, lifestyles and the health of people and their pets.
“I had them on my property for quite some time,” he said.
“They build up in sufficient numbers, I couldn’t control them — I had a cocktail of chemicals around my house that would have knocked out anything.
“They don’t actually bite, but they spray formic acid, so they can blind your pets, they’ll blind you if you get them near your eyes.
These crazy ants have recently made appearance in India,
Yellow Crazy Ants Leave Cattle Blind, Affect Crops In 7 Tamil Nadu Villages: Report
According to Australia’s Wet Tropics Management Authority, yellow crazy ants are named after their distinctive erratic movements when disturbed.
All India Edited by Amit Chaturvedi Updated: August 18, 2022
Hundreds of people living in seven Tamil Nadu villages are facing a strange problem – ant infestation. According to the BBC, yellow crazy ants are attacking their livestock and affecting their crop yields, putting their livelihoods in danger. The locals say that the cattle owned by them have lost sight and dead chickens and sometimes even snakes are found dead in the villages. The yellow crazy ant (scientific name Anoplolepis gracilipes) is listed as one of the top 100 worst invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Forest officer Prabhu was quoted as saying by the BBC that an investigation has been ordered.
The outlet also spoke to Dr Pronoy Baidya, an entomologist who has done research on these ants. “They don’t have any diet preferences. They eat anything and everything,” he said.
These ants are dangerous because they do not bite or sting but spray formic acid, which can cause permanent blindness in animals, said WTMA. These ants are found in large numbers.
Invasive crazy ants disrupt pollination in pumpkin
Aathira Perinchery, THE HINDU │October 07, 2017
Ant presence may be deterring bees
There is yet another reason to be worried about invasive yellow crazy ants — these aggressive predators of native fauna also disrupt pollination in pumpkin plants causing crop loss finds a recent study published in the journal Biological Invasions. This is the first time that this has been recorded in any plant.
Pollination is vital for fruit formation. However, in the traditionally bee-pollinated pumpkin patches of northern Kerala’s Kasargod district, farmers now hand-pollinate their pumpkin patches, complaining of crop loss otherwise. Scientists at the Central University of Kerala decided to investigate why pumpkin pollinators here were failing.
Ineffective control options adopted to prevent the crazy ant infestation include ant baits, dusts and perimeter granules and sprays. But the ants and many other insects have become immune to the content used in these products. Moreover, the dust powder is insecticide formulated which is dangerous to humans as well as pests. Temporary relief from using products with pyrethroid insecticides is achieved, but re-application is necessary every two to three months.
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Our product works on the mechanism of repellency. It temporarily inhibits the mating cycle of the insects. The product impairs the ability of the insects to reproduce, that is the insects will not lay eggs or the laid eggs will be infertile. The product causes feeding disruption in an insect by triggering an unpleasant reaction within the insect which might try to feed on the application. The product temporarily blocks the reproduction system of the insects by hindering the release of vital hormones for growth.
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