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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

'Crazy' ants arrive in U.S. from Argentina and Brazil with taste for machinery and mayhem



The Nylanderia fulva, or 'tawny crazy ant,' is messing with the ecosystem in the U.S., according to a new study.

"Crazy" ants are eating their way across the U.S., driving humans nuts.

Despite being only one-eighth of an inch long, the ants are making a big stink in four states, eating everything from machinery to livestock. The species is known as the Nylanderia fulva, or "tawny crazy ant."

The ants wreaked havoc in their native Argentina and Brazil before finding new homes in Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, according to ABCNews.com. The only way they could have reached the U.S. was with the unwitting help of travelers, according to a new study published in the Biological Invasions journal.

And because they will eat anything, unlike the more conventional and less aggressive red ants, the ecosystem has become jeopardized, according to the study.

"At high density, as N. fulva spreads, it eliminates the current ecologically dominant invasive ant, red imported fire ants," reads the study, authored by University of Texas, Austin researcher Ed LeBrun.

And crazy ants, just like red ants, like to feast on electronics. There was $146.5 million damage to electrical equipment in one year in Texas, ABCNews.com reported.

The ants usually chew through wires in machines, electrocuting themselves in the process. But the dead ants emit a perfume which attracts even more aggressive ants to the machinery, leading to more damage.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com

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