Entomologist: Fire ants better than crazy ants


by ANDREW CHUNG / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndrewC_KVUE


Posted on February 14, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 14 at 7:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Inside a small vial at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office in East Austin is a sample of dead crazy ants.

They may look innocent, but when they're alive and in the open, they move fast, and they're very aggressive. In video from the University of Texas' College of Natural Sciences, smaller crazy ants were seen attacking a larger fire ant, neutralizing its venom.

"The people that have been dealing with these tawny crazy ants for such a long time actually want the fire ants back," said Wizzie Brown, an entomologist at the Texas A&M Ag Extension office. "They can get into electrical items, and they can short-circuit stuff, coming into the house by the thousands, even the millions sometimes, depending on what the population is."

Homeowner Grace Capwell lives in Round Rock. When she was told some people wanted their fire ants back, even though crazy ants don't bite, she said, "Oh my gosh. Wow. That's pretty hard to believe."

Fortunately, Capwell hasn't had any problems with crazy ants invading her yard. But her neighbor wasn't so lucky.

"He saw the crazy ants. They were actually in his electrical box. So, he got pretty alarmed," Capwell said.

When Capwell heard this, she took no chances. 

"We had the experts come out and treat the front yard so that the ones that were in my neighbor's yard didn't make it over here. So, so far, so good," Capwell said.

Capwell and her neighbors have banded together in the past to battle fire ants. They're easy to spot because they build big mounds in the yard.

Crazy ants, though, don't build mounds. They nest under rocks and stones, and they've already hit some of Capwell's neighbors. She hopes they won't have to worry about them in the long run.



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