September 17, 2013

Invasive ant species found living in Georgia

Associated Press

GRIFFIN — An invasive South American ant species that’s nicknamed “crazy” and is drawn to electricity has been found in Georgia, a University of Georgia extension agent said Tuesday.

James Morgan said in a written statement that he found the peculiar breed of ants Aug. 15 at an assisted living facility in Albany after its director called looking for help.

He sent a sample of the ants to an entomologist who confirmed the insects were Nylanderia fulva — commonly known as tawny crazy ants.

The insects differed in color from fire ants and other types commonly found in Georgia and they behaved differently as well, he said.

“They’re reddish in color, very tiny, and they run around and scurry really fast. And they don’t march in a straight row like Argentine ants,” Morgan said.  

The ants are considered a nuisance because they are attracted to electricity and travel in masses, officials said. At the assisted living facility, Morgan said he found hundreds of the ants in a storage area that was full of appliances.

Large clusters of the ants can cause short circuits, UGA officials said.  

Researchers are unsure of how the ants got to Georgia, but say they’ve also been found in other parts of the Southeast.

“It probably came into the U.S., initially, from several Florida ports and one in Mississippi and one in Galveston,” UGA entomologist Dan Suiter said.