Caribbean Crazy Ant population expected to rise in Central Fla.

Unusual ant may be heading to Central Florida

Author: Julie Broughton, Weather
Published On: Dec 04 2012 06:56:20 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 04 2012 07:21:00 PM EST
crazyants
ORLANDO, Fla. -

You may notice an unusual ant arriving in Central Florida soon.  It's called the Caribbean Crazy Ant and is already causing problems in 20 Florida counties. 

A single colony can house up to a billion ants-that number is what makes the bugs difficult to control.

According to Tim Cole of Aaron Pest Control, the crazy ant thrives in lush vegetation.  Cole says he's seen only a few cases of what he believes are crazy ants, but expects that number to soar when spring and warmer weather arrive.

Cole says the ants get their name based on their erratic movement pattern.

 "And literally when you see them on the ground it looks like the ground is covered, but there will be organized trails and they'll be skittering about," Cole said.

Controlling the crazy with traditional protocol is challenging, Cole says.  That's why his company uses a two step plan, starting with a liquid pesticide and then following up with a granular bait.

Ed Thralls of the University of Florida extension offices says UF is currently working on a more effective treatment plan for crazy ants.  And while the bugs do not sting and are not considered dangerous, the size of their colonies causes issues.

"A large number in an electrical circuit box can short it out and that can cause problems," Thralls said.

Thralls says the ants arrived in Florida from the shipping industry and often move in potted plants and shrubbery.  In addition to their unusual movement patterns, you'll notice they are lighter in color than the ants we typically see here.

Thralls says crazy ants cannot be controlled with home remedies.  Expect to pay about $125 for an initial treatment and then $40-$50 monthly for maintenance.