HOUSTON — Why could a fungus help Texas get rid of invasive acid spewing crazy ants?
Crazy ants are originally from South America. They get their unusual name from their unpredictable, quick movements. They are sometimes called Raspberry crazy ants after the Pearland exterminator who first noticed a massive invasion of the South American species in Texas.
Covered in formic acid they are know for going after electrical equipment, causing short circuits by chewing through wires.
Needless to say, crazy ants are not popular. According to Texas Monthly, in some parts of the state they have wiped out local insects, killed birds and even blinded small animals by spewing acid.
Now scientists at the University of Texas say a naturally occurring fungal pathogen can wipe out entire colonies of crazy ants. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The scientists infected ants with the fungal pathogen and released them among uninfected ants running rampant in a Texas state park. The experiment was a huge success. Within two years the park was free of its crazy invaders.
Also the fungal pathogen only affected the ants. Other insects and wildlife were not harmed.
But don’t expect the crazy ants to disappear overnight. Experts warn the process is labor intensive and takes time.