A ferocious type of ant known as the Tawny crazy ant is making its way through the South and now threatens NASA’s facilities.
The ant first showed in Texas in 2002 after working its way up from South America, and has since invaded Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.
Scientists are working to slown down the invasion, though the breed of ant can’t be stopped by traditional pesticides. The investigation into a weakness has been rushed because of the massive destruction they are known to cause.
While they don’t bite like fire ants, Tawny ants do congregate near electrical equipment, like the floorboards of homes and inside cars engines.
“You almost have to see it to believe what a nuisance these can become,” Robert Puckett, an associate research scientist at Texas A&M University, said. “I’ve been in people’s houses where they show me trash bags full of ants they’ve swept up.”
Now, the ants have begun to form colonies at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. While there has yet to be damage, employees are weary.
“We are principally concerned about the possible damage to infrastructure such as electronics, employees’ automobiles, and our facilities,” NASA Houston Facilities Management and Operations Chief Shelia Powell said.
Researchers at A&M continue to search for a way to combat the ants.