Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tawny crazy ant name proposal hits streets

Tom Rasberry points out one of the early known
infestation sites of Nylanderia fulva close to the
Houston ship channel in Houston, TX (2004)
The crazy ant first discovered in Texas by PMP Tom Rasberry, may be getting a new common name.  As I reported in an earlier post, the way for a new name was opened with the recent publication of research firmly identifying the ant variously known as the Rasberry crazy ant, hairy crazy ant or Caribbean crazy ant (depending on what state you are from).  As it turned out, the ant was decidedly NOT the Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia pubens, but another species originally described from Brazil, Nylanderia fulva.

This week the Entomological Society of America's (ESA) committee on common names approved a new common name which has received lukewarm support.  The last step before formal acceptance of the official common name (which I and most entomologists will likely start using) is for the proposal to go before ESA membership for comment.  The proposal is located at, and does a pretty good job of detailing the background of the controversy and listing authorities who both support and oppose the new name.

If you are an ESA member, this is your last chance to let your voice be known. Please submit any comments by March 13, 2013 to Greg Dahlem, the committee chair, at

Interestingly, there are colleagues of mine from Texas A&M who both support and oppose the new name.  Dr. Bart Drees (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension) supports the name change, and Dr. Roger Gold (Texas A&M University) opposes it, along with (not surprisingly) the Rasberry family.  Dr. Gold thinks "tawny" a little dull, and argues that a more descriptive name is needed.  He suggests "Brazilian crazy ant," to commemorate where the ant was first discovered.  I think I like Brazilian crazy ant better than tawny crazy ant; but I have another name to propose.  I suggest we call it the "troublesome crazy ant".  I'm sure that's one name most of the people who encounter this tiny invader could agree on.

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