By Steve Borel
Tawny crazy ants have been found in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi.
Crazy ants are omnivores, meaning that they will eat anything. Unlike fire ants they do not form visible mounds. Instead they form colonies under anything, including paving stones, logs, and potted plants. They are known to be drawn towards electrical equipment. The numbers of these ants build up to very high levels, and the ant may become a great nuisance. In some cases the numbers of tawny crazy ants are so high that people cannot enjoy their yards and pets avoid the yard. These ants do not have stingers and thus, do not sting. These ants do bite causing a sharp pain that fades quickly.
How do I get rid of them? A multi-step approach is the best to use to reduce tawny crazy ant populations. The steps include:
- Landscape Modification– remove all debris, including limbs and dead leaves. Remove anything sitting on the ground that is not necessary.
- Reduce irrigation and repair leaks. Tawny crazy ants prefer moist humid conditions.
- Eliminate Food Sources– Spray 4-5 feet up each large tree to control ants moving into trees.
- Manage honeydew producing insects, which the ants can use as a food source.
- Remove from ant access compost and pet food areas.
- Barrier treatment– use a barrier treatment around your house’s foundation.
The most effective products are not available unless you have a pesticide applicators license.
To treat other surfaces, as a homeowner you can purchase “acephate or pyrethroid insecticides (lambda-cyhalothin, bifenthrin, cypermethrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, permethrin, s-fenvalerate, and others)”. TopChoice™ Insecticide (0.0143% fipronil) granules can be broadcast at a rate of 2 lbs per 1,000 sq ft as instructed for red imported fire ant and nuisance ant control. Treated turf should be watered in after application. Only one application per year is allowed. These maybe effective in the short term. One brand of bait can attract them, but is not effective as a standalone treatment.
- Landscape treatment– treat the landscape with a fipronil barrier. This may require a pesticide applicator’s license.