Crazy Ants Can Chew Through Wires

By: Ashlea Sigman Email
By: Ashlea Sigman Email

"The issue doesn't come from whether or not you can kill them, it comes from whether or not you can kill enough of them," said Jason Meyers, an entomology graduate research assistant, from Texas A&M.

Meyers was referring to "crazy rasberry" ants. The ants are named in part for their erratic movements, and for the Houston exterminator who realized he was dealing with a new breed, when he couldn't kill them.

Scientists say its likely the ants made their way to the U.S. through the Houston port. Right now, they're only in 5 Texas counties, and haven't made it to the Brazos Valley yet.

Meyers has been studying them at Texas A&M for three years. He graduates in August.

"The rest of the story however is that there is no one to follow Jason. There's no money to keep a person on staff any longer to finish the job," said Dr. Roger Gold, a professor of entomology.

That could be a problem, because Meyers is just about the only person in Texas who's been studying the ants. His research discovered the crazy rasberry ants can cause major damage.

"Homeowners began to report problems with appliances, outlets, and cars that wouldn't start. The electronics had been shorted," said Gold.

The ants chew through electrical wires, without concern for where the wires are.

"This has ramifications that go all the way to homeland security, such as detection equipment in the port of houston, to NASA itself, or Hobby airport," said Gold.

A solution to controlling the large numbers isn't likely, unless someone else continues the research.

"Quietly this thing is moving in the state of Texas," said Gold. "You're gonna hear a lot more about it."

Gold and Meyers say they're not sure when or if the ants will migrate to the Brazos Valley because studies need to be done on the ants' spread.

The two have notified the Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the ants.

Because the pests are only in urban areas right now, researchers say the problem has been ignored.

"Should it have been detected? Sure, but the least we should do now is to begin to address the issue, other than what we've been able to do," said Gold.

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