So everybody's talking about these ants that are actually called 'Hairy Crazy Ants' that are turning up in Mississippi, Florida, and other southern states. As their moniker would imply, they look hairier than other ants, at least from a distance, and they do indeed seem pretty lunatic. Watch the video above at about 0:35 to see what I mean.
The strangest thing about the ants isn't their speed or hairiness, however... It's this little phenomenon, as the AP reports:
It sounds like a horror movie: Biting ants invade by the millions. A camper's metal walls bulge from the pressure of ants nesting behind them. A circle of poison stops them for only a day, and then a fresh horde shows up, bringing babies. Stand in the yard, and in seconds ants cover your shoes.They're aggressive, and capable of swarming en masse. According to Roger Gold, an entomology professor at Texas A&M;, if just one ant is killed, "its death releases a chemical cue to attack a threat to the colony."
It's an extreme example of what can happen when the ants - which also can disable huge industrial plants - go unchecked.
And then, the million dollar question: Why are the ants expanding their territory? In such cases of semi-tropical or tropical insects migrating northward, climate change is often a driver -- warming climes allow bugs (and other animals) adjusted to tropical climates to extend their reach. None of the reports I've read on the hairy crazy ants have definitively made such a link, but Peter Sinclair has this:
The A&M; factsheet also notes - "..[the hairy crazy ant] is a semi-tropical ant and potential northern distribution will be limited by cooler weather conditions."Indeed. It shouldn't be much of a surprise if more and more northern states start seeing visits from the frantic little buggers ...
Well, not for long.