Pest Perspectives - July/August 2014 - (Page 12)
Tawny Crazy Ants:
The Call That We Know is Coming
By Stephanie Hill, HomeTeam Pest Defense and Rebecca Baldwin, Roberto Pereira, Philip Koehler, University of Florida
"Hello, Pest management Professional, how may
I help you?"
"I have ants everywhere. I need someone right now!"
The technician arrives at the home. The ground around
the home is moving. Reddish brown ants scurry about
in loose trails. A thorough inspection of the exterior of
the home yield no mounds or defined nests. The ants
are entering the home around doors and windows;
moving toward food and water sources. The technicians'
first thought is to protect the structure and they put
down a residual barrier around the home. After letting
the customer know they will be back to check on the
situation, the technician collects a sample of the ants to
bring back to the office for identification.
At the office, the entomologist on staff takes a look at
the ants. The ants look similar to the red imported fire
ant. The ants are uniform in size, reddish brown in color,
and 1/8" inch in length. Morphological characteristics
observed are: a 12-segmented antenna with no club
and the scape is about two times the width of the head;
one node; an acidopore; and the body is covered with
dense yellow hairs. Several of the sampled ants had been
feeding so their gasters are lighter in color and appearing
to be striped because it is stretched. The morphological
characteristics, along with the information that the ants
forage in wide (several ants) loose trails in quick and
erratic patterns, lead the entomologist to identify the ants
as tawny crazy ants, Nylanderia fulva (Mayr).
Sharing the identification with the technician can
become somewhat confusing. The technician may know
the ant by another name given that from its entrance into
the United States and Florida around 1950; similar ants
have been classified under three different scientific names
and two common names. In the 1950s, an ant invader in
the Miami area was identified as Paratrechina pubens
12 July | August 2014
(Forel), the Caribbean crazy ant, due to the similarities with
P. pubens from South American and the Caribbean Islands.
This ant was of very little pest importance and not much
notice was paid to its presence. Beginning in 2000, an ant
with identical physical characteristics (in the workers) was
observed in several counties throughout Florida. The ant
quickly escalated to a pest of major importance. In 2002,
the same pest ant that was found in Florida was found and
identified in Texas as a different species, Paratrechina
species near pubens. Locally it was known locally as
the Rasberry crazy ant named after the pest control
operator who discovered it, Tom Rasberry. In 2010, both
P. pubens and P. spp. nr. pubens were moved to the genus
Nylanderia based on genetic studies. Thus, the Caribbean
crazy ant was then referred to as Nylanderia pubens.
Further genetic studies showed that the ants emerging as
major pests in Florida and Texas were the same species.
In 2012, the ant was identified as Nylanderia fulva (Mayr).
The common name, tawny crazy ant, was approved by the
Entomological Society of America in January of 2013.
The tawny crazy ant
is originally from the
Cuiabá region of Brazil.
It was introduced
into Colombia as a
biological control agent
against pests of sugar
cane, but became a
serious pest itself.
Currently, the tawny crazy ant can be found in several
countries in South America and the Caribbean islands.
In the United States, the tawny crazy ant can be found be
found in at least 24 counties in Florida, southern Georgia,
costal Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
The technician now has an identification of the ants
that they are treating for, but what is the proper treatment
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pest Perspectives - July/August 2014
FPMA Offers Online CEUs and Much More!
The Facts About Fertilizer Bans
19th Annual Southeast Pest Management Conference
Tawny Crazy Ants: The Call That We Know is Coming
Five Tips for Retaining Customers as You Grow
Pest-PAC Needs Your Support
Membership News & Updates
Adam Jones: All About the People
Pest Perspectives - July/August 2014