Tom Rasberry and the "crazy rasberry

New Species of Ant Invades Texas, Attacks Computers

May 16, 2008 10:15 AM
by Isabel Cowles
Tiny ants descended from insect stowaways on a Houston-bound cargo ship wreak havoc on the city’s electronics.

30-Second Summary

In 2002, “crazy rasberry ants” descended onto Houston through cargo ships and began to multiply.

The ants, named for Tom Rasberry, the first exterminator to tackle the growing problem, do not follow the traditional marching patterns of most ants, but waywardly attack electrical appliances, shorting out computers and causing fire alarms to malfunction, as they wander in disordered droves.

Scientists are not sure why they are attracted to electrical appliances or where the stowaways orginally came from, but a closely related species is found in the Caribbean.

Now, the reddish ants have spread to five Texas counties.

According to Popular Science, the ants are resistant to virtually every kind of traditional pest control. Additionally, “Even when individuals [ants] are killed, the survivors will smartly pile their dead over the pesticide-treated areas to cross to safety.”

One Houston resident explained her difficulty at keeping the tiny invaders at bay: “They just keep coming back. … I went down and bought Raid, and sprayed them, and they’d figure out where I sprayed, and just go around it.”

The state’s Department of Agriculture is working with Texas A&M University researchers and the EPA on a ways to stop the ant invasion. With warm, humid spring weather encouraging the bugs, “the population (is) built up so high that typical ant controls simply do no good,” said Jason Meyers, an A&M student who is doing his doctoral dissertation on the tiny ant.

Headline Link: Crazy rasberry ants invade Houston

Key Player: An unstoppable ant

Opinion & Analysis: Exterminator Tom Rasberry on the ants


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