Linda Hooper-Bui | 10/2/2009 11:27:10 PM
Identifying Characteristics of Crazy AntsThis reddish brown to black ant is seen in disorganized foraging trails going into houses and trees. Legs and antennae are usually longer than the body, which is characterized with coarse hairs. This ant has a one-segmented petiole and 12-segmented antennae. They do not possess a sting but can spray formic acid. Hairy crazy ants, which entered Louisiana during or prior to 2010, require a specialist to identify them correctly.
General Information about Crazy AntsCrazy ants form large colonies, which often have multiple queens. The monomorphic (similar in size) workers are omnivores and will feed on dead insects and honeydew. Since they do not sting, they are considered a nuisance and not a direct threat to human health. They enter houses, businesses, cars, boats and recreational vehicles en masse for food, water, and shelter. They nest in a variety of habitats, such as under objects in the yard, in potted plants, in compost piles and in soil. Crazy ants can be difficult to control because they are nomadic and form new colonies by budding. In fact, the only way to manage them involves areawide or communitywide treatment projects. This approach is similar to that used for Argentine ants.
The ProblemHairy crazy ant populations reach extremely high numbers of individuals and may overwhelm large areas. They short out electrical circuits, kill bees and may disrupt ground-nesting wildlife. They are most problematic because they enter structures en mass and irritate humans. They are easily transported via nursery stock, turfgrass and movement of soil and mulch. These attributes are similar to those of Argentine ants. In the areas of Louisiana where Argentine ant populations are large, radical reductions in biodiversity of ants and other arthropods have been observed.
Areawide Management ProgramAreawide or communitywide management of fire ants and Argentine ants has been successful in Louisiana in the last nine years. The information presented here is based on modifying the techniques that were developed for Argentine ant management because of the ants’ similar biology. These techniques are in early stages of testing on hairy crazy ants in Louisiana because of their recent entry into the state. However, Argentine ants have very similar biology, and the following recommendations are the result of five years of research by L.M. Hooper-Bùi. The following protocol must be done with most people in the area at the same time in order to be successful. Hooper-Bùi suggests that early April (around tax day) is the best time for this protocol to be implemented, but this can be done at any time. However, it will be more successful if the hairy crazy ant populations are disrupted before they get too large and out of control. It is recommended that the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry work with communities to tackle this problem together on an areawide basis to achieve radical suppression. If new infestations are observed and treated early enough, the hairy crazy ants may be eliminated, and the ant and arthropod biodiversity can be preserved.
Caution.It is important that insecticides not be sprayed or broadcast in a way that they contact the water in a reservoir or other waterway directly or through runoff. Runoff of pesticides applied too close to water may occur if it rains too soon after application or if insecticide label instructions are not followed precisely. Also, please keep all insecticides and baits out of reach of children. Read, understand and follow all insecticide label instructions. Apply only what is suggested; more is not better and will result in wasted time, product and money.
Tips for success.Be sure to use fresh bait that has not been stored with other insecticides or chemicals, such as gasoline. Avoid cigarette smoking while applying the bait as the ants to do not like the smell and it is unhealthy. Try to apply the bait as evenly as possible with a hand-held spreader.