Everybody’s got that one “Crazy Aunt,” right? The one that wears a little too much makeup, changes her wardrobe once every couple decades, and is going through her umpteenth divorce? We apologize for any memories of an awry family party that may be conjured up as you read about the “Crazy Ant.”
What does a Crazy ant look like?
The Crazy ant doesn’t wear makeup or clothes from the ‘80s, but it is crazy! This ant is known for its erratic and quick movements – this is actually one of the most distinguishing features of the Crazy ant. It is also considered “crazy” because it doesn’t follow a trail like other ants. There are actually several species that are nicknamed “Crazy ants”, the most abundant being the yellow Crazy ant. The Crazy ant is small (between 2 and 3mm) with a long, coarse body. The gray or white setae are sub-erect to erect and the head, thorax, petiole (waist), and gaster are all dark brown to black. The body commonly has a faint blue iridescence very characteristic of the Crazy ant. Its eyes are strongly elliptical and convex. Workers are all the same size and have extremely long legs (maybe that’s what makes them such fabulous dancers).
Where does the Crazy ant live, and what does it eat?
The Crazy ant is not native to the U.S. but thought to have been introduced from Africa or Asia. In the U.S., the Crazy ant is common throughout the north, northeast, and south as well as California, Arizona, and Hawaii. The Crazy ant has also been reported in Missouri and Canada.
Known to travel considerable distances to forage for food sources, the Crazy ant may nest away from foraging sites. Trash, holes in trees and plants, rotten wood, soil, are a perfect envorment top attract crazy ants. A Crazy ant nest is easily identifiable by the worker ant carrying food back to its nest.
The Crazy ant’s diet consists mainly of the honeydew of aphids, and will even care for young aphids in order to harvest their honeydew. Other insects like mealybugs, whiteflies, and planthoppers are favorite sources of honeydew for the Crazy ant. The Crazy ant will also feed on anything sweet, including food items in your kitchen. It may also eat living or dead insects. The Crazy ant is a predator, scavenger, and forager and will search for food night and day. During summer months the Crazy ant may prefer high-protein diets and refuse a sugar bait.
How long will the typical Crazy ant live?
Colonies of the Crazy ant are moderate to large in size and may contain several queens. On warm, humid evenings males congregate around nest entrances looking for mates. Mating occurs in these gatherings around nest entrances. After mating, the queen will lay her eggs in a nest after which the worker ants care for and feed the larvae. On average, the Crazy ant has a life cycle of 76-84 days.
Crazy ants and Humans
Interaction between Crazy ants and humans is limited, but if nesting sites are available indoors they will venture there. Food sources, particularly sugary and greasy ones, attract ants to homes. The nest of a Crazy ant can be extremely pesky but is easily removed.
Crazy ant don’t have stingers but they do bite and inject a formic acid secretion into the wound.
How are Crazy ant bites treated?
If the Crazy ant does bite, it is typically not painful and does not exhibit any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, however, positive identification of the species should be done immediately. Apply an antibiotic ointment and ice to the affected area.
The Crazy ant is not considered a very serious pest, but if left unchecked can grow to be a big problem. Nests are usually unobtrusive but when built indoors are extreme annoyances. Use of do-it-yourself pesticides may be all it takes to get rid of an Crazy ant infestation, but if it has become too big of a problem for you to handle on your own, consider professional help.