Clemson Scientists Hot On The Trail Of ‘Crazy Ants’

A dangerously prolific invasive ant species, which first surfaced in the United States almost 15 years ago, has been spreading throughout the South ever since and now appears to be on the verge of entering South Carolina for the first time. But a team of Clemson University scientists is hot on the trail.
Native to South America and the Caribbean, the tawny crazy ant was originally found in Texas in 2002. But it has since entered other Southern states, such as Florida, and in 2013 it was discovered in several counties in Georgia. Two years later, it was found as far north as the Savannah River, which indicates it soon might invade South Carolina.
“The predictive models show that the tawny crazy ant could become established in South Carolina in 2016, especially along the coastal counties from Jasper up to Georgetown,” said Eric Benson, professor and Extension entomologist in the plant and environmental sciences department at Clemson University.
“Once established, this invasive species multiplies very quickly and can overwhelm its new surroundings,” he said. “These ants feed aggressively on anything organic and can outstrip an area of available food resources. They can even kill ground-nesting animals and become a danger to poultry, livestock and agriculture. They’re called crazy ants because they run around like they’re crazy, like they don’t know what they’re doing. But they do know what they’re doing, and they are highly efficient foragers.”

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