Crazy rasberry ants are a new species of ant which was discovered in Texas in 2002. As of 2008, biologists have been unable to firmly classify the insects, so they have no formal scientific name. They are believed to be relatives of the so-called “crazy ants” found in regions of the Caribbean, however, and they represent a serious problem for Texans. In addition to multiplying at incredible speed, crazy rasberry ants are also voracious, and resistant to a number of pesticides and other ant control measures.
The “crazy” in “crazy rasberry ants” comes from their movements, which are extremely rapid and erratic. Unlike other species of ants, which typically form organized groups, crazy rasberry ants simply swarm, covering all available surfaces and eating plants, insects, and small animals such as baby birds in their path. The “rasberry” is a reference to Tom Rasberry, an exterminator who first identified the ants as a unique problem in 2002, after dealing with several infestations for various clients in Texas.
Eliminating crazy rasberry ants is extremely difficult, although the Texas Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with several universities, is certainly trying. These ants multiply extremely quickly, and the colonies have several queens, making it vitally important to find the nest and destroy it to get rid of the ants. Crazy rasberry ants will also compete with other ant species, often choking them out because they can reproduce so quickly and because they will cheerfully eat other ants.
These ants also demonstrate remarkable adaptability and intelligence. For example, when pesticides which are effective against the ants are used, the ants will literally stack the bodies of the dead to build bridges, with the goal of avoiding direct contact with the pesticides. They are also extremely hardy, preferring a warm, moist environment, and they have been known to infest electronics in addition to structures, in some cases actually causing severe damage.
Crazy rasberry ants probably hitched a ride from somewhere on a cargo ship, which means that they undoubtedly exist elsewhere in the world, although so far they have only been documented in Texas. Within Texas, the ants are slowly spreading, both on their own and with the unwitting assistance of cars and trucks. Because they are difficult to contain and control, some concerns have been raised about the inevitable spread of crazy rasberry ants, which could cause a significant amount of economic damage.