Tawny ants (Nylanderia Fulva) invasion in the southeastern United States threatens to disturb the ecological balance in many areas where colonies are prevalent. One species of ants called the Fire Ants are already wiped out in Texas Gulf Coast where the invading ants and fire ants are most dense. According to Ed LeBrun, an associate researcher of the Texas invasive species research program in the College of Natural Science in the Brackenridge Field Laboratory, these invaders are much harder to control. They are not easily killed by poisons used to control fire ants, and they destroy electrical appliances.
In a press release statement by LeBrun, these ants can live within the walls, crawl spaces, empty containers, and house plants. Fire ants are much politer, and they only interact with you if you step on their mounds. The biggest threat is the change in the ecosystem around fire ants. When the new species come in, the invaders engulf the native species and lots of changes can occur. Other animals that depend on the presence of the fire ants will eventually go away, because the invaders have altered the environment.
Tramp ants, Invasive ants, Tawny Crazy, Rasberry’s ants, Hairy Crazy are other names for these imported ants. They are not only a threat to the colonies of the fire ants but also some of the species they run into. They basically target the other ant species with deadly precision, according to the study. They starve those they cannot eat, overwhelming their food sources, such as sugary honeydew that other species depend upon. They are also omnivores, which eats other ants and arthropods.
These crazy ants are native to southern Brazil and northern Argentina. Researchers theorized that the invaders came to the United States through humans, thus, came to be known as imported species. The ants were discovered in 2002 in Houston by a pest-control specialist, Tom Rasberry, and named the species after him. Soon, these species were seen in 20 counties in Florida, 21 counties in Texas, in the cities of southern Mississippi, and Louisiana. Recently, the ants were given official name Tawny Crazy ants, because of their erratic behavior.
LeBrun reiterated that further study is needed to learn more about the ants’ potential range and other essential information about them. By far, the study indicates that the ant colonies were more prevalent in mild winters, near the costs, and wet environments. It has been observed that there are no mating flights, so the colonies can only advance or spread about 200 meters per year The ants are opportunistic nesters, living where humans thrive and are dependent on humans. They are easily transported, so they can build colonies in places with suitable environments.
How do these ants become pests? In heavily infested areas, these ants can cause severe disturbance to agriculture, businesses, and the environment. People have become less inclined to enjoy tier time at their own backyard. According to the study, many people want their fire ants back. It can displace wildlife like birds, bugs, and other smaller animals. It can also have a cumulative effect on the economy. For example, the ants seem to have an attraction to electric utilities, which can cause damage and fires to equipment.
Ants Invasion could threaten the ecological balance in southeastern U.S. because they could threaten population, species, and ecological communities. They can attack chickens and livestock that may affect the food supply. They were observed to overwhelm chickens and die of asphyxia, and attack the nose, hooves, and eyes of the cattle.
LeBrun suggests that before going or moving, always check for ants because they are easily transported. Buyers and seller of nursery products should be watchful for these ants. Cutting down the number of transplantation events can help delay the spread by years of even decades. This way, it can give the ecosystem leverage to recover and for the researchers to develop better ways to control the pest.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas