Crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva) have discovered a method to survive the relentless onslaught of fire ants, neutralize their venom, and defeat them, for the better or the worse, kicking them to the curb. The fire ants which have been the bane of many Southern states may have finally met their match; but, are they any less of a problem to humans than fire ants?
While crazy ants might not destroy your lawn like fire ants can, don’t let the crazy little creatures anywhere near your cell phone or computer, as electronic gear is the favored nesting place for crazy ants.
According to entomologists, fire ants have been spreading about the globe, in a case of insect growth mirroring that of human expansion. Their venom can be toxic to humans in a large enough dosage.
When fire ants attack in the hundreds and thousands, annoyed that you or a pet dog or cat wanders too close to their territory, they have been known to kill pets and even humans. They are also sometimes difficult to get rid of or control with pesticides.
Crazy ants, originally from Brazil and Argentina, have figured out a method of dealing with the venom of the fire ants, and they are now displacing some fire ant colonies and destroying them. But, if crazy ants have ever investigated your home and liked what they saw enough to set up a colony, you might know they have been known to make a meal out of the innards of computers. Even iPhones you take outside with you aren’t safe from the crazy ants, who will crawl inside of them and chow down on the wires and other components they find inside.
What do crazy ants do to survive attack by fire ants?
Crazy ants use chemical warfare to both withstand attacks from the fire ants and to take the battle against them straight into their homes.This chemical warfare enables them to neutralize the poison of the fire ants.
When fire ants attack crazy ants, the do what they do with all of their victims — they coat the crazy ants with their fiery venom.
In response, the crazy ants begin their detoxification procedure. They stand on their hind and middle legs, and, using a gland located on the tip of their abdomens, they ooze out acid. The crazy ants then shove the stuff into their own mouths. Then, the crazy ants use their mouths and limbs to smear the formic acid onto their abdomens, which neutralizes the venom of the fire ants. Their venom is anywhere from two to three times more toxic than DDT. In experiment done in Texas, 98 percent of crazy ants who smeared the formic acid onto their bodies managed to survive the battle.
According to entomologist Edward LeBrun at the University of Texas at Austin, the tawny crazy ant could very well displace the fire ants and become worse threats to humans by their trying to invade their homes and electronic
In a study published in the journal Science, they report that crazy ants boast a unique way of neutralizing the potent venom of the fire ants. They smear their own brand of venom on their bodies after being hit with venom by a fire ant foe, successfully detoxifying themselves.
The crazy ants drive out the fire ants, and they compete for
food services, even driving out other species, like some spiders, crustaceans, and centipedes.
Will crazy ants eventually become the dominant species of ants in the southern states? LeBrun thinks that it’s a definite possibility that they will.
There are some people in states such as Louisiana and Alabama who are already looking back towards the days when they only had to contend with fire ants. They claim that one good quality of fire ants is that they were more polite, in that they at least stayed outside, instead of coming in like the crazy ants do. Also, the crazy ants destroy electronics, breed more rapidly than fire ants, and won’t eat ant poisons.
Written by: Douglas Cobb
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