Posted on 03 March 2012 by

Horror Film 2012: The “Hairy Crazy Ant”

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By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

The other day, I was reading an article about how expensive invasive species are to the environment.

Some species just become a simple nuisance while others completely take over and change an environment.

A common example of this situation occurred several hundred years ago when the first “white men” entered North America. As we do today, they wanted to bring the comforts of home.

These include spices, traditions, plants, and animals. In the beginning, the environment was able to handle these newcomers to the land. But the beauty of the land was not enough and in doing so it had to be changed and not changed in a good way. Land was cleared for the European domesticated cattle, sheep, and hogs. Next, the land was cleared for fruit trees and wheat production.

Since the New World’s pollinators could not pollinate these new plants, invasive European bees were released into the environment. These bees quickly took over the wild variety and quickly eliminated them from the natural landscape. Today, the only thing we have left is these European invaders, which when found growing “wild” in a tree is viewed as native.

Today, our natural environment is full of invading species that have traveled far and wide on boats, boxes and people. Once on the land, they can become a simple problem or a complex pain, which is where the “Hairy Crazy Ant” comes into play.

The “Hairy Crazy Ant” is a small creature the size of a flea but with the speed of the Roadrunner. Their bellies look hairy to the naked eye. These lovely creatures of nature have now made landfall in Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. They have invaded home, businesses, and industrial parks. At this point one may wonder what this has to do with gardening and the answer is simple, they are also traveling in items that we use in our urban gardening landscape. This includes hay bales, and potted plants.

While on the surface, it may seem simple to just spray the ants with a chemical or find a natural predator but we all know the dangers in this approach. Hairy Crazy Ants, when attacked, release a chemical that warns all the other ants. These ants respond in a swarm to protect the colony. Due to this behavior, it is hard to find a natural predator.

As far as chemical control, only Texas has approved of this approach and has only approved of two chemicals.

So come this spring, when we all get that gardening fever check your plants before you buy. Find out where the business gets their plants and beware of the locations where the Hairy Crazy Ant has been seen. This will reduce the chance of creating your own Hairy Crazy Ant horror story.

A little twist in the plot of this horror story though, the Hairy Crazy Ant is great at one thing and that is they wipe out the fire ant.

So until we blog again, may the only horror story that you watch in 2012 be on the big screen and not in your own backyard.

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