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Tawny Crazy Ants and their Microsporidian Pathogen: Biology, Ecology, and Sustainable Control

September 21, 2023 @ 6:00 pm 7:00 pm

Zoom Meeting

Tawny crazy ants! You either already have these or you will.

This new exotic invasive ant species from South America was first recognized in the Houston area in 2002, and it has been expanding its range in SE Texas ever since. Unlike exotic fire ants, tawny crazy ants have no central mounds, but rather have super-colonies with many queens spread over huge areas. They nest under stones, logs or most any debris. Infested areas are characterized by huge numbers of ants exhibiting their characteristic quick, unpredictable movements as they forage. By overwhelming numbers, tawny crazy ants can inflict major damage to agriculture, wreck electric equipment, destroy beehives, and even kill small animals by asphyxiation. They will even displace fire and leafcutter ants and can feed on insects to the extent they disrupt the food chain, especially for songbirds. Tawny crazy ant eradication with insecticides is difficult because of the size of the colonies.

Are tawny crazy ants an ecological disaster? Will colonies keep spreading, wreaking havoc as they migrate? Are there sustainable controls? Dr. Edward LeBrun and his colleagues at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory are at the forefront in researching tawny crazy ants and how these may be controlled. His research career has focused on the ecology of invasive ants and their natural enemies. Pursuing a comparative approach, he has worked extensively in both the introduced and native range of these ants. A goal of his work has been seeking a deep understanding of the ecology of these ants and their natural enemies to arrive at environmentally sustainable control strategies.

If you live in SE Texas, you need to see this presentation!