Tuesday, October 21, 2014 Headlines & Global News

'Raspberry Crazy Ants' Marching Towards Houston; Feared Insects Destroy Electronics (VIDEO)

By Rebekah Marcarelli r.marcarelli@hngn.com | Mar 28, 2014 11:38 AM EDT

Crazy ants are harmful to local insect species and have been known to destroy electronics.
Crazy ants are harmful to local insect species and have been known to destroy electronics. (Photo : University of Texas at Austin )

A feared insect called the "raspberry crazy ant" has already terrorized over 20 Texas counties, and it looks like they're only weeks away from invading Houston.

"These ants are so much more powerful than fire ants, when these crazy ants move in they take over," Tom Rasberry, a Pearland exterminator, told KPRC.

The ants are named after the exterminator, who discovered them back in 2002.

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Fire ants used to be the king insects of Texas, but they're no match for the terrifying crazy ants. The crazy ant is believed to secrete a compound that makes them almost invincible against the usually-lethal fire ant venom, a University of Texas at Austin news release reported.

"As this plays out, unless something new and different happens, crazy ants are going to displace fire ants from much of the southeastern U.S. and become the new ecologically dominant invasive ant species," Ed LeBrun, a research associate with the Texas invasive species research program at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory in UT Austin's College of Natural Sciences, said in the news release.

The ants have been known to destroy electronics.

"They can get into electrical equipment. They get electrocuted. and unfortunately that signals other ants to the same place," Paul Nester, a bug expert with Texas A&M Cooperative Extension Service, told KPRC.

The ants are believed to move into electrical devices in search of places to nest, LiveScience reported. They have disabled scored of air-conditioning units in Austin, in many cases disabling the switches.

The crazy ants also seem to be resistant to pesticides that are usually the best defense against invasive insects.

"Changing some of your yard structure can be a good idea. No mulch. They love mulch," Nester told KPRC.

Nester also suggested keeping one's yard free of "discarded wood" could help protect against crazy ant invasions.

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