Thursday, May 15, 2008

Houston-area invaded by crazy rasberry ants

The crazy Rasberry ants are marching! Hundreds, thousands, millions, billions of them are coming in a near-unstoppable zig-zagging insect army intent on making Houston homes, yards and lives a living hill. First spotted in 2002 in Pasadena by Tom Rasberry, the exterminator for whom the rice-grain-sized insects are named, the ants now have spread through much of the greater Houston area. May through September is their peak period — a time when billions of the critters with a reluctance to sting and a habit of chewing up electrical wiring may infest a single acre. Homeowners daily sweep up dust bins of their dead and maimed. While they are not prone to stinging humans, the ants do pose potentially serious problems. Ants indirectly can damage plants by establishing a symbiotic relationship with sap-sucking aphids. Ants feed on a sugary aphid excretion called honeydew and, therefore, protect the aphids from predators. More significantly, crazy Rasberry ants have demonstrated a tendency to nest in and damage electric equipment. Source: Houston Chronicle Photo: Tom Rasberry, an exterminator, lets "crazy rasberry ants," named after him, crawl on his arm in Deer Park. David J. Phillip: AP

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