Gadget-eating crazy ants causing millions in damages

Jun 11, 2013
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Gadget-eating crazy ants causing millions in damages

Depending on what state you live in, there could come a point when one of your electrical devices - maybe even a gadget - fail, only for the culprit to be pegged as "crazy ants". Such has been the case for many in the Southern United States, where a species of insect known as Raspberry crazy ants have made their way from South American, driving out native ant populations and destroying hosts of electronics equipment.

The ants were first spotted in Texas back in 2002, and have since spread to neighboring states, causing chaos on items ranging from RV electronics components to laptops. This is partly because the ants measure in at less than 1/8th of an inch, allowing them to slip into small places, even items like cell phones. Officially known as N. fulva, some signs indicate this ant has been present in the southern states since the 90s.

No one knows how the small ant made its way into the United States, although the most likely reason was someone inadvertently transporting the creatures unknowingly in luggage or a portable item. This is how they spread from state to state, something that is more of a problem than typical because crazy ants are immune to pesticides, making it hard to kill them.

The crazy ants, which are known to be in at least 21 Texas counties and 20 Florida counties, don't just target gadgets and other electronics, also targeting wildlife and livestock. In doing so, they have pushed out large fire ants population. One of the researchers studying the ants said, "Fire ants are in many ways very polite. They live in your yard. They form mounds and stay there, and they only interact with you if you step on their mound."

Crazy ants, on the other hand, will go anywhere they can access, which is just about everywhere. Although they target more than just electronics, circuit-harboring devices seem to be one of their most preferable hangouts, with the insects causing a reported $146.5 million in damages to electronic devices in Texas during 2012. This is caused in large part due to the releasing of pheromones that take place when an ant is electrocuted, causing other crazy ants to scurry to the location, only to meet the same fate, release more pheromones, and cause the entire cycle to repeat.

SOURCE: Red Orbit


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