Summary: The Crazy ant is a small ant, native to Africa. It derives its name from the erratic manner in which it moves, rarely sticking to its own ant trail. Crazy ant colonies are massive consisting of thousands of workers and dozens of queens.
Crazy ants are easy to distinguish from their other counterparts. For one, they're crazy, and you can usually identify them by how they walk alone on the streets rambling to themselves. Oh wait, that's people! Nevertheless, it is still rather easy to distinguish Crazy ants from other ants. First, there is their rapid and erratic movement. Whereas, most ants are known for their military-like execution and discipline, Crazy ants typically won't even follow their own ant trails. But, perhaps these guys aren't crazy, and maybe they are just real big fans of Robert Frost. (Whew! That may be too deep for people seeking answers to ant problems.)
The Crazy Ant is tiny. Workers typically come in at 1/16 to 1/8 inches length. They have extremely long antennae containing 12-segments, which are twice as long as their head! I'm surprised they can't pick up satellite radio with them. Maybe, that is why they are constantly foraging about off path, to pick up different signals. They also have rather long legs, naturally providing them with their rapid movement. The Crazy Ant lacks a stinger, but don't let that fool you. They have fringe hairs containing formic acid running down their abdomen and along the sides of their body. They will use these hairs in defense and for predation purposes. The Crazy ant has been known to attack larger insects and even animals, giving even more validity to their name.
The Crazy ant is extremely flexible, nesting in both dry and moist habitats. They have been known to venture as far north as New York and Philadelphia, but are predominately in the Gulf States from Florida to Texas and sometimes even in Arizona. They prefer the warmer climate because it is conducive to their reproduction. They're the romantic type. On warm nights, large numbers of males will congregate outside while workers patrol vegetation nearby for predators. Eventually a queen will surface and mating begins. Their colonies are quite large composed of thousands of workers and dozens of queens.
Crazy ant foraging area is quite extensive since they do not stick strictly to their paths. Many times, they will be found in and around human dwellings because they are attracted to light. Gas stations, convenience stores and sidewalk cafÃ©s seem to be favorite Crazy ant sites since these are places where food is often dropped. They are also happen to be some of the coolest hangouts in the insect world, FYI.
Crazy ants are omnivores feeding on a variety of foods from seeds, fruits, household foods, other insects and honeydew. They have seasonal preferences for foods. For example, during warm periods when they mate they prefer a protein rich diet; so don't try to use sweet bait in the summer. In the fall and spring, they are attracted to honeydew producing aphids. They form a symbiotic relationship with the aphids. The aphids provide the Crazy ant with the much-desired honeydew and the Crazy ant providing the aphid with protection. Not only do they protect the aphids, they protect the plant life the aphids feed on. Rather impressive for an insect, no?
Nevertheless, Crazy ants are insects and pests and we don't care that they are nice to the little aphids. Another reason they are called Crazy ants is because they can drive you mad with their infestations. That is due to the large size of their colonies and the long distances they traverse from their nests, which can make locating the colonies difficult. Furthermore, they only eat sweet bait during part of the year, and their pathways are unpredictable, thus successful trapping or spraying is more difficult.
Having said the aforementioned, here's how you get the Crazies. Crazy ants, that is. Maxforce or similar baits will work on any number of ants including the crazy ones. All you have to do is locate where the ants are gaining access to your property. Some places to consider are (drum roll, please) pipe chases, air conditioning units, concrete slabs, electrical conduits, vents and even skylights on roofs. Check for ant mounds, along walls, windowsills, around garbage cans, driveways and sidewalks. Hopefully, the ants will feed on the bait, which contains a delayed action stomach poison allowing the ants to carry it back to its nest. There, it will share the bait with the other ants eventually making its way to the queen, stopping reproduction and destroying the ant colony. A win for the good guys!
Click here to watch my short video on how to control ants.