Nature

17
May

Crazy Ants Infiltrate the South

Rachel Nuwer, writing for Smithsonian.com:

Since fire ants first invaded the U.S. through cargo ships docking in Mobile, Alabama, the aggressive pest has taken a firm hold in the South and Southwest. More than $5 billion is spent each year on medical treatment and fire ant control, according to Food and Drug Administration, and the ants cost an additional $750 million in agricultural damage.

Now, however, there’s a new ant on the block. The crazy ant – also an invader from South America – is displacing fire ants in the U.S. by gobbling them up. But this unprescribed cure is likely worse than the disease it’s treating.

The Los Angeles Times reports that crazy ants “create mega-colonies, sometimes in homes, and push out local populations of ants and arthropods.” Sometimes these colonies amass to 100 times the size of other ant species living in the area.

Didn’t realize there were so many different kinds of ants? Listen to this audio story about the World Ant Tour, a 14-month journey to photograph thousands of ant specimens for a free website call AntWeb.