What are Tawny Crazy Ants?

December 14, 2015By

Tawny crazy ants are ants and, to the naked eye, would appear just like any others. But they are not the ants that you are used to. They are not particularly dangerous to humans as their bite is not venomous and just mildly hurts. However, they can damage your home. They are also a detriment to the United States ecosystem where they do not belong… read on…

What are Tawny Crazy Ants?

The tawny crazy ant (aka as the rasberry crazy ant) is an invasive species of ant. It was brought to the U.S. from South America.

Quick Facts:

  • 1/8 of an inch long
  • long antennae
  • legs are reddish-brown in color
  • a typical colony will consist of multiple egg-laying queens.

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Behavior

These ants are called “crazy” because they run around frenetically and chaotically. Crazy ants will erect nests just about anywhere and under almost any object.

Favorite spots are often:

  • Stumps
  • damp soil
  • landscape timbers
  • piles of debris
  • compost and garbage
  • dead plants
  • rocks and stones
  • They have even been known to infest electronics! Most experts are not sure why.

These types of ants will reproduce quickly and knock out other ant populations quickly and easily. They are known to be competitive and can take over territories from fire ants and other species of ants. They possess enormous reproductive potential and can reproduce at an alarming rate once they have infested an area. They have been described as “a carpet of ants.”

Diet

Tawny crazy ants are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meats. They will consume just about any sweets (like fruits or honey) or proteins (such as small insects and even small mammals). The workers are most active and plentiful in the early spring, while foraging is limited in the winter months. Colonies will produce millions of workers by mid-summer and continue to thrive throughout the fall.

It should be noted that the Southern states are at the worst risk for these invasive and “crazy” little guys.

Rate of Spread in the US

These ants were first reported in Brownsville, Texas in the 1930’s and have since spread exponentially. They have spread all over the Gulf Coast and are considered an invasive species.

The annual rate of spread in Texas, by ground migration, is estimated to be approximately 240 and 360 m per year in neighborhoods and industrial areas. In rural landscapes, it is around 207 m/year. In that regard they are spreading much more slowly than fire ants. However, tawny crazy ants are being carried by people, animals, packages, trash, vehicles, etc. into the country. Therefore, the overall observed rate is much higher: at about 8 km per year. It would take less than a century for them to reach New Orleans, at that rate.

They have been reported in Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia, however. This indicates that are actually spreading more quickly than even the accelerated rate of 8 km/yr.

Prevention and Control

It is important to understand that prevention is the first line of defense. However, if the ants do manage to find their way into your property, you should call an expert. Because of their high reproductive rates and chaotic behaviors they can be very difficult to control on your own. They do not respond to traditional ant baits, which is why the US has allowed use of restricted pesticides in order to stop their spread. They have ravaged many parts of the Gulf Coast and are a force to be reckoned with.

They are smart and strong and are able to withstand tough circumstances. However, they should not be able to spread as far as they have. They have done so because unknowing people have carried them all over the country. Check your electronics, suitcases and more and be ready to call a great professional company, like Fischer Environmental, to get the situation handled before it gets worse and affects not just you, but the ecosystems and animals around you.

While prevention is always important, it is not always effective. You should begin by reducing suitable ant habitats, but once they have shown up, this is not a situation that can be handled with store bought ant traps or lemon juice.   They will reproduce quickly and be out of control in no time. Contact us today if you need any help with these crazy ants!

Filed in: Ant Control