An ant is an ant, right? With more than 12,000 ant species in the world, it might be tempting to think that way. However, when it comes to ant control in your home or office, thinking that way can be a big mistake. Though all ant species share many similarities, of course, each one has its own particular strengths and weaknesses as well as nesting and eating habits and preferences. All of those have to be taken into consideration when you're looking at pest control for Lake Charles and the surrounding area. For example, let's take a look at tawny crazy ants.

Tawny Crazy Ants

This particular species is relatively new to Louisiana. Originally from South America, tawny crazy ants (also called Rasberry crazy ants, hairy crazy ants, and Caribbean crazy ants) were first discovered in Texas in 2002 by Tom Rasberry. They spread quickly—mostly via unintentional human assistance—and well-established themselves throughout the south within just a few years. Cal-Cam's own Kevin Savoie was the first to discover these ants in Louisiana.

They do not sting, although they can bite; the bite produces a short-lived mild discomfort. However, they have been known to attack livestock around the eyes, nose, and hooves, causing injury or even death of asphyxia to small animals. Tawny crazy ants may displace certain types of wildlife, including birds and other ant species.

The bigger issue with tawny crazy ant infestations for those who do not raise livestock is that the ants tend to clog and short-circuit electrical equipment. If they get into automobiles, they can damage the machines and "...have been implicated as the cause of damage to side-impact airbag sensors that rendered the devices faulty." If an ant happens to be electrocuted while rummaging around wires, it can release a pheromone that attracts other ants. Dead ants can then accumulate in a space and cause additional issues. These infestations can cause expensive, and in some cases, dangerous damages.

Furthermore, a serious issue with any ant in the home is the transfer of bacteria. Ants may walk through feces outside, then march right across your floors and countertops with those dirty feet. They also carry any bacteria on the food they forage and walk through, and they leave behind their own feces. This can all add up to illness and disease in your household—and if you're not aware of an ant problem, it may be hard to figure out why.

Do You Have a Tawny Crazy Ant Problem?

No one wants any type of ant infesting their home or yard, but before you can eliminate them and prevent a future infestation, you need to know what type of ant you're dealing with. Here are a few ways to identify tawny crazy ants:

  • They exhibit erratic movement patterns, which is where they got their name.

  • Their foraging trails, which may go up trees and posts, is wide, often larger than 10 centimeters.

  • They have hairy, reddish-brown bodies with potential light or dark color variations. 

  • Workers are about 1/8-inch long.

  • They build enormous colonies in moist, empty spaces in tree stumps, potted plants, soil, and more.

  • They have a preference for shaded areas when foraging.

  • They are more commonly spotted in spring, summer, and fall; in the winter, smaller foraging groups may be seen.

Keep in mind, these ants do not build mounds. If you have ant mounds in your yard, that is home to another type of ant.

Ant Control

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The best ant control is prevention. Tawny crazy ants eat almost anything, and are drawn to sweet plants, which includes overripe fruit. When it comes to avoiding any ant infestation, it's best to keep your home, garage, and yard clean and free from waste. Don't allow garbage to sit longer than necessary, and get food scraps into the compost or dumpster as soon as possible. Wipe up spills and eliminate crumbs. Get rid of piles of leaves and fallen tree limbs.

Crazy ants are often accidentally transferred onto a property—that's likely how they got into the area in the first place. Therefore, take care to inspect anything you bring onto your property, like scrap wood.

It's also helpful to seal any potential entry to your home. Ants are tiny and good at finding spaces, of course, but don't make it easy for them: make sure your windows and doors are completely sealed. That has the added benefit of improved energy efficiency, too!

If you do discover or suspect tawny crazy ants, call us immediately. These ants are unique: they are not attracted to typical ant bait and can't be controlled with over-the-counter pesticides. Furthermore, they have large colonies featuring more than one queen! A colony cannot be eliminated unless you eliminate the queen; having more than one queen on the throne increases the chances of a thriving colony, even after an attack from foreign invaders—like a failed attempt at pest control. This is what the Texas Invasive Species Institute has to say about that:

"Effective products involved with the treatments are not readily available to the consumer. If you suspect your house or property is infested with these ants, call a professional pest control provider. After treatment, or when making multiple applications over time, piles of dead ants must be swept or moved out of the area in order to treat the surface(s) underneath."

At Cal-Cam, we use anti-termite agents to deal with tawny crazy ants. We'll give you a free estimate so you know exactly what will be required to eliminate your tawny crazy ant problem, and we offer ongoing monitoring to ensure they do not return. We are licensed, bonded, and insured, and we're committed to providing safe, effective pest control in Lake Charles using the latest technology and calling upon our more than 31 years of experience in the industry. If you suspect you have an infestation of tawny crazy ants or any other insect or pest, please contact us. We're happy to answer your questions and inspect your home to offer you the best advice on what to do next.

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