Tom Rasberry, Mike the Hog-a-Nator, and the Crazy Ants That Are Slowly Taking Over Texas

While I was traveling between Chicago, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Frankfort for the holidays, I got a chance to catch up on some old articles I had added to my Instapaper account. One article in particular really stood out, and I found it totally mesmerizing and worth sharing.

// Edit: As a side note, I should mention that I got to read this article while on a plane, and also while on my mobile device which they did not require me to turn off during takeoff/landing. Let’s hear it for the FAA on this one.

The article I read was entitled There’s a Reason They Call Them ‘Crazy Ants’, and it documents the rise of an odd species of ants that seems to be attracted to electronics. They don’t behave like normal ants, and it’s this erratic behavior that gives them their “crazy” moniker.

Entomologists report that the crazy ants, like other ants, seem drawn to electronic devices – car stereos, circuit boxes, machinery. But with crazy ants, so many will stream inside a device that they form a single, squirming mass that completes a circuit and shorts it. Crazy ants have ruined laptops this way and, according to one exterminator, have also temporarily shut down chemical plants.

In his article, John Mooallem talks with a lot of interesting characters – a guy named “Mike the Hog-a-Nator” who hunts feral hogs, as well as an exterminator named Tom Rasberry (who first identified the ants back in 2002).

Since he first identified the ants, Rasberry became somewhat obsessed with them and with trying to get others (scientists, state and federal agencies) to try to listen to what he has to say. Despite his best efforts, the theory now is that a supercolony exists in Texas that could span as wide as 4,200 acres and seems to be spreading 200 meters each year, in all directions.

To call these ants “unstoppable” is a bit of an understatement. They don’t seem to be attracted to the normal things ants are attracted to, and their sheer numbers make them overwhelming.

A really compelling read, and well worth a few minutes of your time.

[Photo via Bill McCullough]

Ant Invasion
Watching a Swarm of Migrating Ants
The Ants, by André Maurois

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