01 October 2012
Posted in NatureWorks
The mysterious and invasive ant known as the “Rasberry crazy ant” now has a scientific name. The ant was first discovered near Houston, Texas in 2002 by a local exterminator named Tom Rasberry, who first noticed the increasing problem the ants had been causing. Individually, these little critters seem much like any other harmless species of ants, but don’t let that fool you! In groups, these ants form large colonies that congregate near outlets and wires causing important electrical equipment to fail, overheat or even short out.
Entomologists (scientists who focus on the study of insects) quickly realized they were dealing with a genus of ant that is most common to North America, the Nylanderia, but were unable to identify the species. In lieu of a scientific classification, the ants were named after their discoverer.
Since 2002, researchers have been working hard to classify the species and, for the first time, given it the scientific name Nylanderia fulva. Entomologists are hopeful that having a name for the ant will help them search for natural predators that may keep the invasive species in check. It will also help them understand how the ant functions in its natural habitat. Finally, entomologists will take a closer look at the genetics of the crazy ants to find more about where they came from.
Today, the Rasberry ant can be found in 21 Texas counties as well as parts of Mississippi and Louisiana.