A recent report from Texas A&M University stated that tawny crazy ants had been found in 23 Texas counties.
The Nylanderia fulva (literally meaning "crazy ant") are found in large numbers near electronics equipment and wall sockets, according to a Dec. 6 story in the Washington Post. Cellphones and television sets have succumbed to the ant swarms, and the insects damaged electronics in a Houston-area industrial park.
Tawny crazy ants aren't the only ants that destroy electronics; in Texas alone, costs associated with fire ant damages to electrical and communications equipment totaled $146.5 million per year even 10 years ago. And many types of electrical equipment are commonly affected in Texas and elsewhere.
But these crazy ants are capable of living in immense colonies, up to 100 times denser than all other ants in an infested habitat. During a recent field study, one ant researcher collected more than 180,000 ants simply by leaving plastic tubes in an infested location overnight, Texas A&M reported. The researcher did not need to use bait.
A few experts, such as University of Texas at Austin’s Ed LeBrun, worry that ecosystems already altered by the fire ant may be unprepared to keep the crazy ant in check. Left to their own six legs the insects cannot travel far, but LeBrun noted in a 2013 statement that the animals could stow away in RVs or be shipped through the mail in garden products, the Washington Post reported.
Entomologists have identified the ant in every Gulf state. The ant’s eastward march may take it next to South Carolina.
In 2013, the University of Texas at Austin announced a $2.7 million initiative to find biological ways to keep invasive insects under control.