Crazy Ants: What There Is To Know About Them
Crazy ants, hairy crazy ants, raspberry ants, tawny crazy ants…call them whatever you like, but one this is most certain. This new ant species is wildly invasive with epic proportions of dense populations.
Their name “crazy ants” was earned because of their erratic and frantic movement. But what really stands out as “crazy” about these ants is their unusual fondness of electrical equipment. It is estimated that crazy ants are responsible for over $145 million of electrical damage each year. When these ants get electrocuted, they emit a scent that acts as a signal to other ants to come to the scene in search of the attacker. This, however, causes a domino effect; the more get electrocuted, the more scent released, and the more ants are attracted to that location. Eventually, this leads to large enough pile of dead ants to short-circuit an electrical system.
Crazy ants have very thin bodies, long legs, and an antenna. It is their long legs that make them have awkward movements. They have a dark brown to black color and approximately measure 2 to 3 mm in length. Their elongated antennae are divided into 12 different segments.
Behavioral Traits, Diet, and Habits of Crazy Ants
Crazy ants feed on a wide range of food sources. They mostly feed on household foods like sweets, honeydew and other live and dead insects.
They have vast colonies that can go beyond 2,000 workers. In some cases, colonies numbering over 10,000 strong has been discovered in mulch and piles of debris.
Crazy ants are extremely versatile creatures as they can survive in moist and dry conditions. They nest in soil, tree cavities, rotten wood, under buildings and rocks and in trash. They cannot survive in severe cold weather conditions, and tend to infest homes and buildings in summer and humid conditions, or as soon as the weather changes for the better. One can locate crazy ant nesting areas by following workers carrying food to their colonies.
What makes crazy ants more difficult to control than another ant species is their ability to live indoors and outdoors. They also travel long distances in search of food, which makes it difficult to locate their colonies.
Why Are There Crazy Ants in My Home?
Named officially after the exterminator who first noticed them “Tom Rasberry,” crazy ants can be normally found nesting in warm coastal areas, particularly in states like Texas, Florida, and New Jersey.
There were first discovered in Texas around the Houston area in 2002, and since then they have made their way throughout different states. People normally transport them unknowingly. Crazy ants build their nests outdoors, and will over time move into homes in search of food. They also do build their nests indoors and in other electrical equipment such as air conditioning systems.
What Do I Need to Know About Crazy Ants as a New Jersey Homeowner?
The process of mitigating a crazy ant infestation can be a difficult one because they tend to build their nests indoors and outdoors. One of the best ways to prevent a crazy ant infestation is to implore an effective all-year pest program. Be alert around building foundations and in mulch beds for crazy ants. When large colonies form near your home, they can easily gain entry and leave a trail of disaster.
You can also prevent a crazy ant infestation by:
- Sealing all crevices and cracks in your building’s foundation.
- Trimming bushes, back trees and other forms of landscaping around your home.
- Caulking any gaps in your doors and windows.
- Clearing debris like fallen limbs and fallen leaves from your yard, as well as getting rid of dead trees.
- Ensuring that tight lids are fitted on your trash cans, and moving them a safe distance from the perimeter of your home.
Crazy Ant Reproduction
A single colony may have anything from 10 to 50 queens. More colonies may even be formed when a queen and some workers break off and form their own, a process referred to as budding.
Can Crazy Ants Bite Humans?
Yes, crazy ants do bite but don’t sting like fire ants. The bite won’t feel like a sting, something that has made them a hallmark for those living in areas with large populations of the species.
Signs of A Crazy Ant Infestation
As previously mentioned, crazy ants derive their name from their jerky, erratic movements. Other species of ants will move in a single line as they go in search of food, but crazy ants don’t. Instead, they move in an erratic zigzag pattern. The way they travel is a good sign that your home has come under a crazy ant infestation.
Typical indicators of an infestation will be visible evidence of these ants moving to and from their nests. They can also be seen outdoors searching for food and water.
Do Crazy Ants Pose Any Threats?
Crazy ants have the ability to infest your home and yard in relatively little time. They have vast populations that are powerful enough to expel other ant and animal populations from your home. While they do bite, their bite is less painful than a sting from a fire ant. Crazy ants can become a huge problem when they invade your home in massive numbers, build nests within the walls of your home or inside other electrical equipment, a sure-fire way to cause electrical malfunction.
What Options Are Available to Control Crazy Ants?
Because of their sheer numbers, interconnected colonies, and ability to reside indoors and outdoors, treating crazy ants can pose an enormous challenge. Even when some crazy ants become contained in a particular area, others arrive quickly from untreated areas. This makes it necessary to implement multiple treatments.
Control options will include parameter and dust granules, sprays and ant baits. If you start noticing a great deal of crazy ant activity around electrical equipment and outlets, immediately place baits in those areas before things rapidly get out of control. In addition, ensure that you constantly monitor bait levels so you have new bait available when needed. Pyrethroid containing insecticides can offer temporary relief, but you must apply every two months. In severe cases, professional services from a reputable pest company will be required.
Good housekeeping and cleanliness to remove any food sources can be very effective in managing and controlling crazy ant populations. Weather-stripping and caulking around doors, foundations, baseboards, windows and other openings for plumbing, electrical and HVAC will greatly help reduce or prevent the invasion of crazy ants into homes and buildings.
More Information About Crazy Ants
A thorough indoor and outdoor inspection is the first step to controlling and preventing the invasion of crazy ants. Preventive or proactive actions include sanitation to rid their sources of food as well as preventing crazy ants from making their way into your home or building. Without doubt, the best and probably most efficient and effective method preventing and eliminating crazy ants is to seek the services of a reputable and professional pest management service. Such a service will know the best environmentally friendly products to use, as well as possess knowledge on how to identify and prevent crazy ant invasion.
You can also minimize the occurrence and size of crazy ant populations by removing all the conditions that offer protective nests for ants to thrive.