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Crazy Ants Attracted to Electricity

Tawny Crazy Ants in electrical box

First discovered in the United States in Houston, this invasive species of ant is now found in Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Nylanderia fulva, better known as the tawny or raspberry crazy ant is an ant species originally from South America. When discovered in 2002 the ant was noted as not being attracted to usual ant baits and not controlled by standard pest control solutions. These ants live in colonies which typically occur under landscape objects like rocks, timbers, piles of debris, etc.

In addition, this ant species tends to have an affinity for electricity including electronic equipment such as DVRs, cell phones, and other devices. In areas infested by the tawny crazy ant large numbers of ants have accumulated in electrical equipment causing short circuits and clogging switching mechanisms resulting in equipment failure. Ants also cause damage by chewing through wiring insulation. New studies have shown that although some ants are electrocuted by the wiring in equipment the dead bodies of these ants actually send out a scent signal, alerting other ants and attracting them to the area.

To date damage caused by the tawny crazy ant to electronic equipment in the US alone is estimated at over 100 million dollars.

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of professional grade pesticides for managing the ants, their spread continues. Take precautions when moving equipment or materials that my be invested with the ant and contact a professional for assistance with controlling the ants.

At this time there is are no recommendations on how to keep the ants away from electrical equipment other than securing the area where devices are stored to ensure that the ants cannot penetrate the area.

More information can be found online via the Texas A&M AgraLife Research Extension entry on the species.

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