Watch out, Houston: billions of mobile and notoriously destructive Rasberry Crazy Ants are about to descend on the city.
The hairy, reddish-brown ant, also known as the Tawny Crazy Ant, is dormant until late April. As temperatures heat up, the ants thrive, a habit that has prompted the newest wave of dread of the oncoming ant invasion.
Rasberry Crazy Ants, although perhaps less widely known than fire ants, are actually more destructive than their cousins. And although Rasberry ants do not sting or bite, as fire ants do, Rasberry ants are even harder to deal with.
“They’re 10,000 times tougher than fire ants,” said exterminator Tom Rasberry, after whom the ants were named after he first spotted them in a Houston suburb in 2002. “They’re much more difficult to control.”
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Entomologists believe the ants arrived in Texas in the 1930s aboard a cargo ship from South America.
The ants have managed to make their way into 27 countries, up from eight countries in 2008. And, once they make their way into a house, the ants have been known to wreak complete havoc, chewing through electrical systems and chewing through insulation.
They’ve been known to ruin laptops, water pumps, and gas meters.
“I’ve been in houses where every time you took a step you’d literally be stepping on thousands of ants with each step,” said Rasberry.
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“They’ve gotten into electronic systems in chemical plants and shorted-out equipment that forced the plants to shut down entire units,” Rasberry said.
Not only can the ants eat through just about anything, but they can reproduce at an absolutely alarming rate: a one-acre field can be covered by 15 to 20 billion ants in “no time.”
Paul Nester, a program specialist with Texas A&M’s Agrilife Extension Services, recommends removing mulch, potted plants and wood piles from properties; ants thrive in all of these environments.
“They’re just really a true nuisance ant,” Nester said, noting also that pesticides will control the infestation if it has not yet gotten out of hand.
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