One of our neighbors, Ed LeBrun is a biologist with UT who studies invasive ants, and he recently sent us this informative and disturbing message:
There is a relatively new invasive ant species that is spreading in Texas and the SE US: tawny crazy ants. Until recently, in Texas this ant was mostly confined to areas around Houston. Unfortunately, this year many populations have been reported within Austin. These ants most commonly colonize a neighborhood by hitchhiking on landscape materials and nursery products. Their arrival in our neighborhood would be a very bad deal. These ants can reach truly enormous densities and they nest and forage inside people’s houses in large numbers. There is no proven way to eradicate them once they are established. Control inside structures requires continual treatments with nasty pesticides that only licensed pest control operators can apply. Expensive and very undesirable. With all the new construction in the neighborhood, I thought that it might be wise to contact the builders and make them aware of this threat. Many populations start as a result of commercial scale landscaping projects. The message for the builders is to get nursery products from local (absolutely not from the Houston area or East Texas), trusted sources, and inspect them for ants prior to planting. I am attaching a fact sheet that might be useful to incorporate into the neighborhood news letter.
Let’s all be on the lookout for these ants and take action to alert Wizzie Brown or Ed LeBrun if you see them. The information on how to identify and collect the ants, and how to notify these experts is in the Tawny Crazy Ant fact sheet. A big thanks to Ed LeBrun for keeping us informed about this invasive ant.