Massive ant swarm marching toward Houston

Wednesday, April 02, 2014 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: crazy ants, pest swarm, Houston

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(NaturalNews) As the ground begins to warm up in Texas, it is literally squirming, coming alive, crawling and teaming with a vicious and mobile predator.

Experts predict 2014 to be the worst year yet for distinct ant invasions throughout Texas. Like a plague rising from the earth, this specific ant species is projected to descend on Houston, Texas, engulfing whatever stands in their way.

"Rasberry ants" projected to be more mobile in 2014, descend upon homes and businesses

The growing colony of ants, called Rasberry crazy ants, is projected to be more mobile than ever before and descend upon homes and businesses in the largest city in Texas. More destructive than their wicked cousin, the fire ants, these monsters will likely force entire home evacuations as they have in the past. Some businesses may be forced to shut down as the ground predators bite their way into electronic components.

It sounds like a scene from a horror film, and that's exactly what it is projected to be for some in Houston who stand in the path of these vicious ant colonies. Since 2008, the ants have invaded over 20 new counties in Texas, disturbing homes and businesses in their wake.

Ant colony explodes in past six years, cutting through insulation, damaging electronic components

Entomologists believe the colonies were introduced from South America in the 1930s. In the past decade, though, their presence has exploded in Texas, also affecting counties in Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. For many years, they were a problem in about eight Texas counties, but in the past few years they have multiplied, moving onward in search for food. As they have expanded, they have become destructive, possessing the ability to chew through insulation, causing short circuits in electrical systems.

"I've been in houses where every time you took a step you'd literally be stepping on thousands of ants with each step," exterminator Tom Rasberry told FoxNews.com. As a matter of fact, the ants can reproduce so quickly that, in one season, a one-acre field could be blanketed by 15 to 20 billion ants. Entire lots can appear moving, as the ants crawl forward, up and over fences, or whatever gets in their way.

Rasberry ants dominate fire ants by outpacing them for food

Tom Rasberry named the reddish brown ant after discovering them in a Houston suburb in 2002. Also called tawny crazy ants, this species dominates its commonly feared, stinging fire ant cousins by locating food sources sooner. Even though the Rasberry breed don't sting or bite like fire ants, they are more dominant and pervasive.

Tom Rasberry, who exterminates the monsters in suburban areas, says, "I guarantee you, you'd rather have the fire ants because they are much easier to deal with."

As the temperatures warm up in Texas, many suburban homes are bracing for the ant's next advance. The Rasberry crazy ants lay dormant in the ground until late April. In the past decade, they have awoken from their hibernation with greater intensity and mobility.

One common target of destruction for these ants are electrical systems. They will ruin water pumps, gas meters and even laptops. "They've gotten into electronic systems in chemical plants and shorted-out equipment that forced the plants to shut down entire units," Rasberry said. Even NASA's Houston headquarters is not immune to the ants. A couple of years ago, the ants found a way to infest the NASA infrastructure.

Homeowners frustrated, prepare by removing mulch, wood piles

Specialist Paul Nester, of Texas A&M's Agrilife Extension Services, suggests that homeowners remove mulch, potted plants and wood piles to prepare beforehand. He hinted that pesticides hardly work when the ants take over.

"They're just really a true nuisance ant," Nester said. They consume and crawl over anything in their wake. "Then you look at a fencepost and they are running up the fencepost and across the fence."

Nester has dealt with the frustrations of homeowners first hand. "This can cause so much emotion in people dealing with it that they're at their wit's end," he said. "It can be traumatic for homeowners because they just don't know what to do."

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