Monday, October 10, 2011

Crazy Hairy Ants Spreading Through the South East - 10th Oct 2011

Why “crazy hairy” you ask? They’re called “crazy” because each ant in a colony seems to scramble randomly, moving very fast. They’re called “hairy” because of dense hair that, to the naked eye, make them look less glossy than most ant species. These ants don’t dig out anthills and prefer to nest in sheltered, moist spots. They will eat just about anything — plant or animal.

The ants, whose scientific name is Nylanderia pubens, were first seen in Florida in the 1950s then in Texas in 2002. Now they are moving and posing a threat to Louisiana and possibly Georgia.
A pest control agency sent a sample of the “hairy crazy ants” to the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum, where curator Victoria Bayless identified the species for the first time in Louisiana.
Bayless said the main difference between this species and other ant species is the size of the colonies. A single colony can contain millions of the pests because there are multiple queens, or head ants, that work together. She further states that hairy crazy ants reproduce rapidly and do not respond to normal pest control methods and researchers have not yet found a way to prevent or get rid of the ants. Hairy crazy ants have also been reported in walls of houses, she said. They can cause electrical shortages as they accumulate in large numbers. If one gets electrocuted, its death releases a chemical cue to attack a threat to the colony, the other ants rush in. Before long, you have a ball of ants. They can also overwhelm beehives — one Texas beekeeper was losing 100 a year in 2009.

Florida had the ants in about five counties in 2000 but today is up to 20. Nine years after first being spotted in Texas, that state now has them in 18 counties. So far, they have been found in two counties in Mississippi and at least one Louisiana parish. Source