Matt Bochat

Matt Bochat

Howdy, folks! This is great information from the Urban and Structural Entomology Program at Texas A&M University. Please see the excerpt below about the tawny crazy ant.

An exotic invasive pest ant species that’s new to Texas was found around Houston in 2002, has begun to spread largely through human assistance and has been confirmed to be in Victoria County. The ant is the tawny crazy ant (formerly rasberry crazy ant). Currently, little is known regarding the biology of this ant.

Identification: How do I spot them?

Suspect tawny ants if you see a lot of ants with the following characteristics (see full listing of characteristics below):

Appearance of many (millions) of uniformly sized 1/8

  • -inch, reddish-brown ants in the landscape; foraging occurs indoors from outdoor nests.
  • Under a microscope you will find 12-segmented antennae, a petiole (one node) and an acidopore (circle of hairs at the tip of the abdomen), and the ant will be covered with many hairs (macrosetae).
  • Males are winged
  • Ants form loose foraging trails as well as forage randomly (non-trailing) and crawl rapidly and erratically (hence the description “crazy” ant).
  • Ant colonies occur under landscape objects like rocks, timbers, piles of debris, etc. These ants do not build centralized nests, beds or mounds and do not emerge to the surface from nests through central openings.

Impact: What do they do?

  • In infested areas, large numbers of tawny crazy ants have caused great annoyance to residents and businesses. In some situations, it has become uncomfortable for residents to enjoy time in their yards. Companion animals may, in some cases, avoid the outdoors as well, and wildlife such as nesting songbirds can be affected. The cumulative economic impact is currently unknown.
  • Biting and medical implications to people, livestock and wildlife: Tawny crazy ants do not have stingers. In place of a stinger, worker ants possess an acidopore on the end of the gaster (abdomen), which can excrete chemicals for defense or attack. They are capable of biting, and when bitten, they cause a minute pain that quickly fades.

Management: What can you do for them

Many of the typical control tactics for other ants do not provide adequate control of the tawny crazy ant. Because colonies predominantly nest outdoors, reliance on indoor treatmentsto control these ants foraging inside structures is not effective.

Cultural control: At the foundation of any IPM strategy are cultural control methods beginning with the removal of harborage such as fallen limbs, rocks, leaf litter and just about anything sitting on the ground that isn’t absolutely necessary. Cultural methods can also include altering the moisture conditions in a landscape. Crazy ants prefer humid, wet conditions, so reducing irrigation repairing leaks, and improving drainage should help.

Avoid spreading this species to new locations. Anything being moved from an infested area should be inspected for ants and treated before transferring it to a new site. Food sources should be eliminated or managed. Specifically, honeydew producing hemipterans should be managed. Often, products containing the active ingredient imidaloprid or other systemic neonicotinoid are a good option for hempiterans.

Chemical control: Effective products involved with the treatments are not readily available to the consumer. If you suspect your house or property is infested with these ants, call a professional pest control provider. After treatment, or when making multiple applications over time, piles of dead ants must be swept or moved out of the area in order to treat the surface(s) underneath.

If you have questions or need more information about tawny crazy ants or other information, please give me a call at the Victoria County Extension Office at 361-575-4581.

SOURCE: Urban and Structural Entomology – Tawny Crazy Ant, Website, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, Texas A&M University

Matt Bochat is a County Extension Agent – Ag/Natural Resources Victoria County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

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