These Ants are Crazy!

Not all invasive species get their foothold as the result of intentional release. Instead they arrive because we unknowingly bring them here.

Something as simple as moving a single small item from point A to point B can be the launch of introduction. Multiply that by many items, and even more points, and it's easy to see how an invasion begins.

How can you help?

Don't move firewood. It's so easy for something unexpected to hitch a ride! Instead, buy it where you burn it. You can find detailed information at

Nylanderia fulva, the crazy ant, is one of our newer Texas invaders. It's also a tad mysterious and apparently loyal to the state since, to date, it's only been spotted here.

Tom Raspberry, a Houston area exterminator, was the first to recognize this as a unique pest. This - and not their reddish color - gave rise to their first moniker, the Raspberry crazy ant. Now they are more commonly referred to as tawny crazy ants.

Following that first identification in 2002, the ant seemed to turn up all over southeast Texas, from Houston down to La Porte, wreaking havoc on area businesses and homes. They seem particularly attracted to electrical wiring, even creating problems at NASA facilities.

Since then they have spread inland, with infestations in almost 20 Texas counties, as far from the Gulf as San Antonio. And given that they are considered a semi-tropical ant they certainly have the potential to keep on going.

But where exactly did they come from? Most likely South America. At least they are similar to other ant species found there. How are they spreading? Again, we don't specifically know, as no mating has been observed in the field. But they do propagate, and rapidly, colonizing a number of habitats and becoming nearly impossible to eradicate once they do.

As to how they got here, the most likely explanation is aboard a commercial vessel — an inadvertent stowaway, unknowingly transported to a new home. 

More reading on the Tawny Crazy Ant in Texas:

And tune in to your  local Texas PBS station May 24 - 31 for Texas Parks & Wildlife's award-winning television show. Learn more about new research into crazy ant control in the lab and in the field.

If you want to learn more about how you can make a difference, share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. For a limited time enjoy three months of digital access to 600+ articles and our expanded 2020 Summer issue - all for only $1.99!


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