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Crazy ants have invaded the Southeastern United States and they are competing with the fire ant population in a new and exciting way. When the populations encounter each other, the crazy ants have shown the ability to neutralize the venom of the fire ant. The fire ant’s venom, a topical insecticide, has allowed them to dominate ecosystems, eliminating other ant species.
According to a University of Texas at Austin study published in the journal Science Express, when a crazy ant encounters the venom, it begins an elaborate detoxification procedure. The exposed crazy ant secretes formic acid from a specialized gland at the tip of its abdomen, transfers it to its mouth and then smears it on its body. In lab experiments, exposed crazy ants that were allowed to detoxify themselves had a 98 percent survival rate.
From the human perspective this is not good news. Fire ants tend to localize in their mounds, only interacting with people if you step on their mound. Crazy ants unfortunately will go anywhere, invading homes and nesting in walls and even damaging electrical equipment by swarming inside appliances.