- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's a crazy world out there.
Now our beleaguered honey bee has a new foe: the Rasberry crazy ant, Paratrechina sp. nr. pubens.
The Rasberry crazy ant is driving Texans crazy.
A UC Davis entomologist sent me an Associated Press news story about how these crazy ants are wreaking havoc in Houston and are now spreading to about a dozen counties in the Lone Star State.
First, this ant, about the size of a grain of rice, is named for an exterminator named Tom Rasberry who spotted the exotic, invasive pest near Houston in 2002 and sounded the alarm.
Second, these ants are considered "crazy" because they don't march like well-disciplined soldiers in a parade but weave erratically like equally crazy cockroaches.
Third, they eat honey bees, which already have enough trouble dealing with colony collapse disorder, pests, diseases, pesticides, stress, malnutrition and global climate changes.
Honey bees need a crazy ant like they need a hole in their antenna or a mite on their thorax.
Entomologists at Texas A&M just posted an informational Web site about the pest, which they describe as "1/8 inch long and reddish-brown."
And with a big appetite.
Fact is, these hordes of crazy ants are ruining electronic equipment--like computers, I-Pods, printers, telephones and burglar alarms--and are damaging sewage pumps and gas and electricity meters. They basically consume just about everything in sight--from the unwanted red fire ants to the beneficial ladybugs and honey bees.
Today the ant is being considered "a serious agricultural pest" because it's encroaching on "livestock, hay bales and a few honey bee farms," according to Associated Press writer Linda Stewart Ball in her piece published Aug. 5.
The Texas Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture want to declare the crazy an "agricultural pest," something they must first do to seek research funds.
"If killing honey bees does not put it in the ag pest category," Rasberry told the Associated Press writer Linda Stewart Ball in her Aug. 5 piece, "I don't know what does."
Where did it come from?
Perhaps from the Caribbean. It could have hitchiked a ride on a cargo ship. At any rate, it's here and spreading by billions and it's not going away. You'll want to read Tom Rasberry's blog about the crazy ants.
Houston, they have a problem.
And so may we.