New Ant Species Arrives With a Taste for Electronics, Scientists Say

"Perhaps the biggest deal is the displacement of the fire ant," LeBrun said, in releasing his study. "The whole ecosystem has changed around fire ants. Things that can't tolerate fire ants are gone. Many that can have flourished.

New things have come in. Now we are going to go through and whack the fire ants and put something in its place that has a very different biology. There are going to be a lot of changes that come from that."

LeBrun found that in two areas studied by his team, red ants were completely eliminated when crazy ants by the millions moved in. Either the red ants moved on, or they died because of competition for resources. A lot is still unknown about what exactly is causing what in this ongoing competition.

What is clear, however, is the role humans have played in the introduction of this new warrior. Crazy ants do not travel great distances on their own. The only way they could have arrived in North America and spread across several states is with human help.

So LeBrun urges people traveling in those areas where the ants are showing up, and especially to the crazy ant's homeland in South America, to check their luggage carefully for any sign of the critters. It doesn't require a lot of space for an entire colony to set up shop, and they propagate at an amazing rate.

The researchers found that crazy ant colonies reached densities 100 times greater than all the other ants in their area combined. It doesn't take many to make a huge impact.

So maybe it's not as crazy as it sounds.

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