I first encountered the term crazy ants when working with an entomologist from Oklahoma who was in the Caribbean Studying ants. He goes “oh, look, you have crazy ants”. My son goes “all our ants are crazy” and the Professor goes “no, these over here are invicta ants and those there are leaf cutting ants, these are Paratrechina longicornis, crazy ants” It was then that I learned that there was actually an ant known as “crazy ants”. The name is appropriate.
Most ants aren’t crazy ants, but some other species. Paratrechina longicornis, crazy ants act crazy. They run every where not following set patterns, scavenge what ever is available and hide the nest in very inconvenient places. They are annoying, but unlike some species do not bite and blister, those are invicta ants, also commonly known as fire ants and the two are often confused. So, what does one need to know about crazy ants?
They consummate scavengers with no set feeding patterns. They will feed on dead insects and carry off bread crumbs one day while ignoring the sugar bowl, then the next day return for the sugar! This makes them hard to poison using baits, they just avoid it. It also means that everything must be cleaned and carefully put away because any type of food can attract crazy ants! They are primarily an agricultural pest, getting into and pillaging granaries or even the kitchen cabinets.
They also wander a long way from the nest, and the nest can be any where! They may not have the traditional ant hill, but can be hiding in a hollow log. If they are in your house, and they like human dwellings because it is a steady supply of food and, in winter, warmth, they can live in a concrete block in the wall, in between sheet rock, or down the drain. Some prefer dry and others like wet. You may have to follow an ant for 30 minutes to find out where it is living, they wander rather than go in a straight line!
These crazy ants are also prolific, but their breeding habits are poorly understood. The males appear to break off the Queen’s wings before the mating flight, and then run off with her!
Where did crazy ants originate? The crazy answer is that no one really knows. Scientists suspect Asia or Africa, but some claim the South Pacific. They are definitely not native to the Americas or Australia and Anarctica is not likely. They could always be a mutant or mixture of several types of other ants, that might explain their crazy, mixed up ways!
Crazy ants are crazy! You can check out more scientific details on the Florida Department of Agriculture Website. For eradicating them from your garden, you might check out the Clean Air Gardening Website!