We’ll admit, the title of this article may be just a tad misleading because not all of the facts about the South American Tawny Crazy Ant are fun. They’re a very small species, but they’re taking over the southern United States at a pretty alarming rate. Here are 5 things you should know about these ants.
They’re NOT from the United States.
First and foremost, Tawny Crazy Ants are originally from South America, which means that in the United States they are an invasive species. They showed up in the southern states around 2002 and they’ve been a nuisance ever since. That’s because they tend to eat the small insects that other native species depend on. That’s affecting some birds and reptiles and the impact will likely continue on with larger animals. They don’t have a lot of natural predators and it’s tough for exterminators to wipe them out because they don’t stick around long enough for poisons to work.
They’re purpose built to withstand fire ant stings.
Crazy ants have a special gland that secretes an acid specifically designed to protect them from fire ant stings. That same secretion can act as a weapon against other insects. That makes these things a pretty tough customer.
Their real strength is in numbers.
Crazy ants truly define the phrase “strength in numbers.” Thanks to their lack of natural predators, crazy ants can reach group sizes that are about 100 times larger than other ant species in the area. They’re so small and so dense in their numbers that they’re often mistaken for dirt, which makes it easy to transport them and infest other areas.
They like to get inside electronic devices.
Crazy ants often find their way into electronic devices like computers and air conditioning units in search of food and new places to build nests. When this happens, their bodies can actually act as connections between components and short out the devices. The result is often a dead device full of dead ants.
They’re called crazy ants for a reason.
When they forage for food, the ants swarm around in an erratic, “crazy” way—hence, “crazy ants.”