I guess the crazy ant video posting from last week was timely in an unfortunate way. This week we have an official confirmation of the Rasberry crazy ant from west San Antonio, as well as the first confirmed site in Galveston county. Molly Keck, IPM program specialist from Bexar County, is concerned about the find, which was made by a PMP during a service visit to a commercial customer. According to Dr. Roger Gold, the identity of the ants has been confirmed by the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M University.
One of the things I learned from the workshop last week was that humans are the main agents responsible for dispersal of this species of ant. By themselves these ants seem to spread relatively slowly, much slower than fire ants when they were invading Texas. According to researcher Danny McDonald, highlighted in last week's video blog, winged females have yet to be observed in this ant, so spread may be limited to the ground... unless humans help out.
We believe crazy ants are being spread in Texas through soil, hay bales and possibly vehicles or equipment that are stored on the ground. Moving potted plants or woody plants with root balls is likely a principal means of transport. Because this ant is not yet considered a quarantined pest, there is currently no inspection process or certification of nurseries or soil transporting operations. Advising a client with Rasberry crazy ant infestation to avoid spreading the problem by moving such articles will provide a service to the community.
As new counties are added to the list of confirmed counties with infestations, the BASF expanded label for Termidor (allowing expanded treatment zones around structures) will be amended by the TDA. If you have what you suspect might be a Rasberry crazy ant problem, send specimens to the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology using the Identification Request form on their website.