'Crazy Ant' beginning to leave its mark in Brazos County

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - Quickly moving between the cracks in the sidewalks and up and down tree limbs in Bryan/College Station lies a new kind of ant colony.

The Tawny Crazy Ant has officially moved in and experts say they won't be leaving anytime soon.

"Its bizarre. Its bizarre when they're alive and its bizarre when they're dead," said ABC Home and Commercial Services General Manager Bo Jenkins.

"They became known as the raspberry crazy ant. They have a sweet tooth and like carbohydrate rich food sources," explained Texas A&M Entomologist Robert Puckett. "They don't build mounds though, they simply use anything they can find in the environment like potted plants, lawns with St. Augustine grass, really anything that can hold moisture, that's where these guys will build their nests."

Whether they snuck into some soil or hitched a ride on some hay bales, the Tawny Crazy Ant took a one way trip from South America to Texas back in 2002.

Puckett says there are groups of entomologists in multiple states working to understand the insect and get a better idea of how to control them.

"These guys have expanded to 38 counties in Texas since 2002 and now they occur in the southeastern United States including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia," said Puckett.

Each colony has multiple queens and when they're put up against fire ants, Puckett says the crazy ants will win every time.

"They're really really aggressive ants. They made their way into the system and they're just superior competitors," said Puckett.

Unfortunately, they're beating us too. Puckett and ABC say totally getting rid of these pests isn't an option right now.

"We really don't have a good bait," said Puckett. "But we do have some good residual insecticides that can be applied to your lawn or home."

That insecticide will ward them off for at least a month, but treatment will have to continue religiously if you want to keep them at bay.

"It's really safe to say there's no silver bullet for crazy ants right now," said Jenkins. "The thing with crazy ants is as they die, they emit a pheromone, essentially putting off a battle cry, which then attracts the other ants of the colony to their aid."

Experts say with no known local species around to truly beat them either, the sugar craving crazy ant could soon be your home's worst nightmare.

"Its kind of like a boxing match. We're going to keep hitting and keep hitting and pray that we get a knockout sometime soon," said Jenkins.

Crazy ants do bite but they don't sting, so their bites aren't considered medically dangerous. However, they can be harmful to your pets because of how fast they can cover their paws or face.

The crazy ants also have a knack for shorting out electronics both in the home and in your car.

If you think you may have stumbled upon some crazy ants, you're encouraged to contact a local pest management company.