Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rasberry Crazy Ant Impact

Rasberry Crazy Ants are having a profound impact in any area that they have been established. At the current rate of spread it will not take long for them to infest the entire southern region of the United States. When comparing there spread to the Red Imported Fire ant it is alarming to say the least. Red Imported Fire Ants were introduced into the U.S. in the 1930s. Forty years later the fire ants had not made it to Conroe, Texas. Rasberry Crazy Ants on the other hand were first discovered in 2002, and in 2005 they had only been confirmed in two locations in south Harris County. As of September 2009, infestations have been verified in Huntsville, Texas many miles north of Conroe. They have been confirmed as far east as Beaumont, south to Galveston, west to San Antonio, and southwest to Jim Hogg county. The probability is extremely high that they are far beyond these known areas.

RCAs are not known to spread through mating flights. Due to the fact that they are a tramp ant, they are being spread through commerce, and our transportation system. Nest have been observed on , or in trucks, cars, box containers, rail cars, potted plants, potting soil, mulch, garbage bags, honey bee hives, ect. These ants will hitchhike on almost anything that can be transported.

Once they have been transported to any area, they spread at an alarming rate. An example of this has been witnessed in Pearland, Texas. Rasberry Crazy Ants were first confirmed in Pearland, in 2006. As of September 2009, they have infested approximately 3/4th of the city.

When RCA colonies mature, they reach numbers in the billions per acre. These numbers tend to be problematic for all other animals and insect on the infested site. They will either eat the majority of other insects, or out compete them for food. The end result is the same, as much as 90% of the insect and animal populations will disappear from infested sites As RCAs spread through the southern United States there is a high probability of a severe negative impact on ecological systems in the infested areas. When entering a heavily infested area there tends to be an eerie silence. If RCAs are not addressed immediately, everyone in the southern region of the United States will have the opportunity to experience this silence.


At this time the environmental impact from pesticides being used for these ants is limited to the areas that are heavily infested.
Homeowners are applying 200 lbs. to 400 lbs. of pesticides in yards which should not have more than 8 lbs. The reality is that the homeowners are so desperate, they apply a product bought at the local do it yourself store, 3 to 7 days later the ants are back so the return to the same store and buy more product and retreat their yard with a pesticide that has a different label. What the consumer doesn’t understand is that they have bought the same chemical that has just been packaged differently. Then they repeat this process over and over and over. The next time it rains, you have hundreds of thousands of pounds of pesticides washing down the drains, thus contaminating the ground water.
As they spread we will all have the opportunity to feel this impact firsthand.

In the past year I have personal knowledge of three chemical plants that have had units shut down from Rasberry Crazy Ants. Two of the above mentioned sites had a cost of over 1 million dollars each, not including the cost of control. Industrial sites are complaining about the impact that RACs are having on their employee production. Employees are spending as much as ½ of their work day trying to keep these ants off their desk and legs. This cost will be passed on to the consumer. In my opinion the cost to commercial facilities will reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars within the next 10 years.

RCAs have had a profound impact on homeowners. They have reported filling their vacuums daily. Consumers have reported having RCAs crawling all over their babies. RCAs have shorted out swimming pool equipment, air conditioners, lights, car computers, and other electronics. Once the infestation is mature, pets and children tend to resist spending time in the yard. At this time it is very expensive to maintain suppression. People with low income or elderly people on fixed income cannot afford the cost of adequate treatments. It’s sad when we have living conditions that aren’t much better than you would find in a third world country.

The issue of RCAs in rural areas have not been addressed. We know they are being spread to rural areas and the probability of severe consequences are as close to certainty as you can get. Similar species of ants have been documented killing small farm animals such as bird in other countries. The same species were found to feed on the membranes of the eyes and on the hooves of large farm animals. They also reduced crop production by 40%. We now have reports of RCAs getting in the eyes and crawling up the nostrils of cattle. It has also been confirmed that RCAs are killing honey bee hives. Since honey bees are one of the main pollinators of our crop this could impact our food sources.

The Rasberry Crazy Ant have a high probability of being vectors of deceases, such as Strep. If this is proven to be true, which it probably will, our health care facilities are going to have some major issues.

At this time, the US Department of Agriculture, has refused to classify Rasberry Crazy Ants as an agricultural pest. They are saying that it is a non actionable pest. This seems to mean that if you are unsure about what needs to be done, you bury your head in the sand and do nothing. In my opinion this is total incompetence or employee being too lazy to do their jobs. It doesn’t matter what the reason is for their lack of action, the end result is the same.

We need to look back at history and learn from the lack of timely response we had with the Red Imported Fire Ants. Had we responded in a timely manor with the Fire Ants, they could have been controlled and probably would not be costing the hundreds of millions of dollars per year to our country.

Just a reminder: THE DEFFINITION OF INSANITY IS TO REPEAT SOMETHING OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND EXPECT A DIFFERENT RESULT

Tom Rasberry, ACE

3 comments:

  1. I am amazed at these little creatures. In the apartment complex where I live they are all over the ground, bushes, walls (exterior and interior, though interior much less frequently than exterior so far), potted plants, and even our cars. I'm worried that these little b*stards are going to nest in the wiring of my car and destroy it. Have there been any reports of this occurring?

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  2. I found a nest in my daughter's car seat tonight. We noticed the RCAs flowing through the backseat of our car just this afternoon. I took the car to the car wash and removed the car seat to vacuum the seats and found a colony about the volume of a 1 cup measuring cup dump out of the bottom of it - FULL of ants and larvae/eggs. We used Lysol spray to kill the ants in the car with some effectiveness. Not sure what else to do besides call the pest control guy.

    AHHH!

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  3. The crazy ants in my car are a real nuisance and I don't know how to get rid of them. Now I'm afraid they are going to ruin my electrical wiring. Has anyone heard of a product that really works? I've been researching on the internet tonight and have read about the Texas Two-Step (an organic approach) and nematodes. But nothing I've read has actual testimony about successful results.

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