How Crazy Are Crazy Ants and How to Get Rid of Them
Crazy ants, tawny crazy ants, hairy crazy ants, rasberry crazy ants. This highly invasive ant species (Latin name Nylanderia fulva) goes by many names, but maybe you didn't know that it is a relatively new species of ant (discovered in Texas in 2002), with significantly dense and widespread populations. Also, you probably didn't know that Crazy ants have no natural predators in the U.S., so their numbers only continue to increase.
"Crazy" ants are so called because of their frantic, jerky movements. But what’s even crazier about these ants is their strange attraction to electrical equipment of all kinds. So much so, that every year, the estimated electrical damage caused by Crazy ants runs in the $146 million range!
When electrocuted (yes, they often get electrocuted), these ants emit a unique scent (pheromone), to let other ants know they should rush to the scene to find the eliminated ant's "attacker." As you can imagine, several, if not all, of the ants that rush to rescue their friend end up electrocuted, sending out more pheromones, and attracting more ants, etc. The resulting piles of dead ants sometimes short out entire electrical systems.
How Do You Identify Crazy Ants?
Crazy ants are reddish-yellowish-brown in color, and measure about 1/8" in length, with coarsely hairy bodies. Both males and females have wings, but males hardly ever fly, and after mating, females shed their wings. They are easily identifiable by their quick, unpredictable movements.
Crazy ants do not have stingers, but they may bite and curve their bodies to emit venom into an attacker.
Black crazy ants (Paratrechina longicornis) have the common name of Longhorn Crazy ant. They look very similar to tawny crazy ants, but have very long legs, long, 12-segmented antennae, and adults are dark brown to black in color, sometimes with a bluish hue.
Where Can You Find Crazy Ants?
Crazy ants are very able survivors and highly adaptable to their environments (able to live in damp or dry habitats). They are primarily native to the southern United States, especially in the Gulf Coast region (i.e., Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida). These ants do not build nests or mounds, but can make their homes in tree cavities, plants, yard clutter, in the soil under trash or rocks, as well as inside buildings and electrical equipment. Crazy ants do not do well in cold climates, so when temperatures drop, they may start to head indoors.
Crazy ant colonies are usually small, but each one has an several queens that breed prolifically. You might find 20 or more queens underneath a 12-inch wide boulder. Individual colonies combine with others, creating “super colonies” that can quickly boost Crazy ant numbers from a few thousand to several million.
Though natives of the south, Crazy ant populations have been also been spotted as far north as Massachusetts and New York, and as far west as California and even Hawaii. Tawny Crazy ants are primarily found in Texas, while Black Crazy ants are most often found in Florida.
Unlike some species that don't go far from their colonies for food, Crazy ants crawl rapidly to and fro in search of food in areas far away from their colonies. Their workers are omnivorous (will eat anything), feeding on everything from living and dead insects, fruits, plant secretions, seeds, honeydew produced from insects and any number of household food items from your pantry, like sweets, produce, meat, grease, and liquids. The easiest way to find a Crazy ant nest is to find workers carrying food back to their colonies.
Do You Have a Crazy Ant Infestation?
If Crazy ants on or near your property have had a chance to build up large colonies, you will likely see impressive numbers of Crazy ant workers, frantically running around everywhere, in every direction, searching for food.
Is a Crazy Ant Problem Serious?
Crazy ants are a significant nuisance: rapid breeders, difficult to control, and able to combine colonies into immense super colonies. Electrical shorts and failures of electrical and electronic equipment are common when large numbers of these ants are present and wander into the circuitry.
Do Crazy Ants Bite?
Yes, they do bite, but if you do get bitten, it's only mildly painful, and quickly goes away. Differing from other ant species, Crazy ants do not possess any kind of stinging mechanism for protection. Instead, these ants produce chemicals to protect themselves.
How Did Crazy Ants Get Into My Home?
Crazy ants nest outdoors in just about any crevice or space where they can find moisture. They usually won't build colonies indoors, but will likely come inside in search of sweet and greasy things to eat. Remember, they have no natural predators, so unless you take them out, nothing else will!
How do You Get Rid of Crazy Ants?
If you've seen Crazy ants in your yard, you'll want to get ahead of them as quickly as possible, before their numbers go on the upswing during the summer.
Even if you are able to control Crazy ants within a specific area, others will quickly arrive from untreated nearby areas, and their numbers will rebound, usually making it necessary for multiple treatments.
The best long-term and reliable way to eliminate Crazy ants is to use a good ant bait. Maggie's Farm No Spill Ant Kill bait stations can wipe out an entire, huge colony of ants When properly used, No Spill Ant Kill bait stations and Maggie's Farm Ant Killer gel bait gel will get the colony wiped out, without the mess of other liquid baits. Foraging worker ants find the bait stations or bait droplets you've put out for them, then will go back and share it with the rest of the colony. Both solutions work well indoors and outdoors.
Sprays can be used indoors and outdoors, work well as a spot treatment for ants you see, and they also work well on a Crazy ant nest, especially if it is exposed (more visible areas to spray). Maggie's Farm Ant & Roach Killer spray and Maggie's Farm Home Bug Spray not only kill Crazy ants, they also kill other species of ants (including Carpenter ants), bed bugs, cockroaches, spiders, ticks, fleas, and a variety of other crawling pests.
Maggie’s Farm Yard Bug Spray can be used around the perimeter of your house to create a repellent barrier of protection by preventing Crazy ants from getting inside. It will also kill them on contact. Plan to repeat spraying about every 45 – 60 days.
Dusts also work well as an ant contact killer, if you can find the colony/nest. Try Maggie's Farm Spider & Insect Dust. For Crazy ants, cover the nest with dust and gently puff dust into the nest entrance, doing your best not to disturb the nest. Repeat a few days later if there is still ant activity.
How do You Prevent Crazy Ants?
Prevention is always the best solution for any pest problem. You can start by doing what you can to reduce their possible habitats, including clearing your yard of tree clutter, trash, etc.
Cleanliness is also very important indoors to eliminate their food sources and help control them effectively. Sweep, mop, wipe up food and drink spills, etc. Caulking cracks and crevices around the outside of your home and weather-stripping around windows, doors, baseboards, etc. will help prevent them from getting inside. Be particularly careful to seal off openings into electrical, HVAC, and plumbing fixtures to also help prevent any Crazy ants from getting indoors.
You May Need to Call a Professional
There's a lot you can do yourself to help manage Crazy ants you may find in your home or yard. If an ant invasion is more than you are able to handle, call a pest control professional.
Remember, a large and long lasting infestation can result in serious damage to your home!
For more general help with ants, read the following articles:
What are your ant control tips and tricks? We want to hear about them! Leave us a comment below!
For scientifically-tested, effective ant control in your home, yard, and garden that is friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective.