MEMPHIS, Tenn., Oct. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Ants have long been America's biggest nuisance pest, but a particular species is wreaking havoc for property owners across the South.
The tawny crazy ant – known for its quick and erratic movements – could very well be the most challenging of any ant species to control, according to pest management professionals. That's because tawny crazy ant colonies often contain tens of thousands of workers and multiple queens that overwhelm treated areas. And while they don't sting or bite, this species of ant can cause significant structural harm – an estimated $146.5 million in residential and commercial damage annually, according to an April study from Texas A&M University.
Terminix®, the world's largest pest control provider, has reported increases in the prevalence of tawny crazy ants in Gulf Coast states such as Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Outside, crazy ants thrive and multiply in moist, wooded areas such as within landscape mulch, litter, loose barks on trees, and piles of lumber or bricks. Inside, nests can be readily established within walls, beneath carpeting and in other suitable voids or spaces.
"The tawny crazy ant forms extended colonies from many subcolonies connected by trails," said Stoy Hedges, a senior technical professional with Terminix. "Once they find a resource site for food, they continually forage in trails to that site, including into buildings. They are known to be attracted to electrical junctions in HVAC units and cause malfunctions to this expensive equipment."
The tawny crazy ant or its close relative, the Caribbean crazy ant, was first seen in North America in south Florida in the mid-1990s. This ant species is primarily spread through shipments of landscape plants, shipping containers and similar goods. Because they do not feed much on traditional ant baits, the key to control is to find the colonies and subcolonies and treat them directly.
Regular inspections and service are necessary to find and treat new tawny crazy ant colonies as they move from neighboring properties. Proactive measures can be taken by utilizing the services of a pest control company such as Terminix.
Additionally, Terminix offers the following tips for limiting tawny crazy ant infestations:
- Eliminate piles of lumber, bricks or other debris that could serve as a nesting site.
- Keep landscape mulch less than two inches thick and at least 12 inches away from foundations.
- Ensure the sprinkler system does not spray directly onto the foundation.
- Seal as many cracks in the home's exterior as possible.
- Keep the tree and shrub branches trimmed to prevent touching the home.
- Consider re-landscaping to avoid using plants that are prone to aphids and similar insects. At the very least, treat such plants for aphids regularly.
Terminix is the world's largest pest control provider. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., Terminix services approximately 3 million residential and commercial customers in 47 states and 14 countries. Terminix provides pest control services and protection against termites, rodents and other pests threatening human health and/or safety. Terminix is a subsidiary of The ServiceMaster Company, one of the world's largest residential service networks. The company's brands include Terminix®, TruGreen®, American Home Shield®, ServiceMaster Clean®, Merry Maids®, Furniture Medic® and AmeriSpec®. To learn more about Terminix, visit www.Terminix.com.
With a global network of more than 7,300 company-owned, franchise and licensed locations, Memphis-based ServiceMaster® is one of the world's largest residential service networks. The company's high-profile brands are Terminix, TruGreen, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and AmeriSpec. Through approximately 20,000 corporate associates and a franchise network that independently employs an estimated 31,000 additional people, the ServiceMaster Family of Brands® provided services and products to approximately 8 million customers during the last 12 months. The company's market-leading brands provide a range of residential and commercial services including termite and pest control; lawn, tree and shrub care; home warranties and preventative maintenance contracts; furniture repair; home inspections; home cleaning; janitorial services; and disaster restoration. Go to www.servicemaster.com for more information about ServiceMaster or follow the company at twitter.com/ServiceMaster or facebook.com/TheServiceMasterCo.