Hairy crazy ants could make way to Georgia

The ants, already in 20 Florida counties, are called "crazy" because each one in the horde seems to scramble randomly.

Hairy crazy ants are already menacing Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

 

And Georgia could be next.

Experts tell the Atlanta Journal-Constitution it may only be a matter of time before the flea-sized critters make their way northward to Georgia, just like the Formosan termite and the fire ant did years ago.

They're called crazy because each ant in the horde seems to scramble randomly, moving so fast that they appear as if they're on fast-forward. And they have a hairlike substance on them that makes them less glossy than other ants.

What sets the hairy crazy ant apart from other ants is the enormous size of their colonies.

The tropical ant has migrated from South America, through the Caribbean islands to the Gulf states, said Ron Harrison, director of technical services for Orkin Pest Control, a division of Atlanta-based Rollins Corp.

"We were told that fire ants would never get to Atlanta, and they were able to do that," Harrison told the AJC. "I think we will have (hairy crazy ant) infestations in Georgia. Will our colder winters in Atlanta knock them back? Right now I'd say yes, but the bugs are changing and adapting, so there is always a chance they could become a problem."

The ants aren't a threat to humans and animals like fire ants, but they can be as destructive to utility transformers and electrical outlets, sometimes shorting them and causing fires.

Harrison said the ants will likely arrive in Georgia by catching a ride on flora or other products brought into the state.

Twenty counties in Florida are reporting infestations, up from five in 2000. Texas has 18 counties with the ants nine years after first reports came in. The ant also is in two counties in Mississippi and at least one in Louisiana.

Harrison said if Georgians have relatives in those areas they should be "very, very careful" about receiving potted plants or other items in which the ants could travel.

But fire ants should be wary.

Harrison said the hairy ants will seek and destroy any fire ants in their path.

 

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