TAWNY CRAZY ANT
Daniel R. Suiter, Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA
In August 2013 James Morgan (UGA Extension Agent in Albany, GA) was the first to find the tawny crazy ant, Nylanderia fulva, in Georgia. Read the story here. Until Morgan’s find, the tawny crazy ant was known from sporadic counties in Mississippi and Louisiana, but was widely-distributed in Texas and Florida.
The tawny crazy ant was formerly known as:
- The Rasberry crazy ant (after a pest control operator, Mr. Tom Rasberry, the discoverer of N fulva in Texas)
- The hairy crazy ant (under a microscope the ant appears hairy) and
- The Caribbean crazy ant (given its FL distribution)
The tawny crazy ant is an invasive ant species from South America with widespread distribution in Texas and Florida. The tawny crazy ant’s biology and general, visual appearance, to the untrained eye, is similar to that of another South American invasive ant species common in Georgia, the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) (known to Georgians as “sugar ants”). While the tawny crazy ant was detected in Georgia in 2013, the Argentine ant has been established in Georgia for more than 100 years. Neither are native to Georgia.
In August 2014 three additional tawny crazy ant sites were brought to our attention by Jarrell Jarret, Arrow Exterminators in Brunswick, GA in conjunction with Don Gardner, UGA Extension Agent. Two sites were found at I-95, exit 26 (Waverly, GA). Neither site was more than a quarter mile from the interstate (one east and one west of I-95). Both sites are in Camden county.
We suspect ants were transported from Florida. A fourth site was found just 3 miles north on I-95, at a gas station (exit 29). This site is in Glynn county.
We suggest that UGA Extension Agents and Pest Control Operators on Georgia’s coast, in southeast Georgia, and in the southern half of Georgia should be on alert for the existence of this major nuisance ant pest. In areas of Texas where the tawny crazy ant has appeared, it has become a tremendous nuisance. Although unseen, and perhaps less appreciated by homeowners, invasive species, including ants, can be highly disruptive to native habitats. Invasive ants commonly drive native ant species to extinction, and can disrupt the “balance” of native ecosystems, resulting in a cascade of detrimental impacts on a system’s ecology.
Control of the tawny crazy ant is similar to control of the Argentine ant, and includes (primarily) the direct application (strictly by label) of fipronil, pyrethroids, or other labeled sprays to trailing ants and nest sites (concentrations of workers, brood, and queens) around structures. Secondarily, baits can be utilized, but due to colony size and distribution, baits are less effective than perimeter sprays at alleviating this pest’s nuisance status.
The movement of tawny crazy ants into un-infested areas is aided by human beings (potted plants and other personal belongings). tawny crazy ant colonies reproduce by budding. tawny crazy ants do not have nuptial flights, so cannot move long distances unless their movement is aided by humans.
Because the tawny crazy ant is commonly found nesting in and amongst human debris and trash, it is important, in conjunction with chemical treatments, to maintain a tidy property. If this entails maintaining and cleaning-up the outside environment in an area where the tawny crazy ant already exists, it is critically important to not exacerbate the problem by moving the ant to an un-infested site in infested debris in an attempt to tidy the property.
Report Findings of the tawny crazy ant.
Should Pest Control Operators (PCO) or UGA Extension Agents find what they think to be a tawny crazy ant infestation, it is important to send a physical sample for confirmation of their identification. Send physical samples to Dr. Dan Suiter, UGA Griffin Campus, Department of Entomology, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, GA 30223. Call Dr. Suiter at 770-233-6114 or email him.
Local Extension Offices can often help PCOs identify insects or ship samples for diagnosis. Find your local Extension Office here or call (800) ASK-UGA1 from any non-cell phone.