The crazy ant, a native of Asia, has become a familiar species due to world trade, and is now well-established in many towns and cities along the Gulf Coast of the United States. Crazy ants get their common name because the workers often run in a haphazard, or “crazy” manner.
The workers range from 2.2 mm to 3 mm in length. Only one node is present on the pedicel. The thorax is not evenly rounded, and the antenna has 12 segments, lacking a club. The stalk of the antenna is very long — about twice the length of the head. The eyes are large and strongly convex.
Crazy ants have long and slender legs, allowing for rapid movements. Their dark brown to black bodies contain widely-dispersed long, coarse, grayish-white hairs, not to be confused with the fire ant.
The crazy ant is highly adaptable, and can live in both dry and moist environments. The colonies typically contain about 2,000 workers and have anywhere from 8 to 40 queens. A single colony consists of a number of satellite colonies connected by foraging trails. Crazy ant colonies are very mobile and can move to new locations when their environment become unfavorable. New colonies are formed through budding from the original colony. Winged reproductives swarm mainly during the summer months, but in very warm and moist climates, they swarm throughout the year.
Crazy ants are omnivorous, feeding on live and dead insects, seeds, fruits, honeydew and household foods. Their keen sense of smell enables them to locate food rapidly, and are attracted to honeydew-producing insects during the spring and the fall. They have a seasonal preference for high-protein diets during the summer months.
Despite their erratic movements, these ants form foraging trails, following structural guidelines such as sidewalks and the edge of buildings, and are capable of foraging for more than 100 feet. Crazy ants forage both outside and inside structures with relative ease. Common nesting sites outdoors include areas under heavy vegetation, landscape vegetation that grow against a solid surface, trash, rotting wood, potted plants and plant and tree cavities.
Outdoor colonies will readily forage indoors, while indoor colonies tend to nest inside wall voids and under items on the floor that have not been moved in a long time.
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