Sunday, December 8, 2013

Crazy for Electronics

 As if we all didn’t have enough to worry about. Now there’s the threat of Rasberry Crazy Ants moving north. Their home is faraway Brazil and Argentina but they have spread north, invading southeast Texas, Mississippi and Georgia.
   So who is afraid of some itsy bitsy ants? Your electronics. Crazy Ants devour them. They ate Mike Foshee’s 50-inch television.
Nylanderia-pubens: Crazy Ant
   Mike is a Texan who noticed his TV flickering. He opened its back and found the inside components alive with thousands of Crazy Ants. When his air conditioner stopped working he dragged out his vacuum and started cleaning. When he finished he had sucked up five gallons of ants.
   Mike’s stories and a lot of other interesting stuff about the ants is found in writer Jon Mooallem’s excellent offbeat piece in this week’s New York Times Magazine
   Crazy ants don’t actually consume electronics. But they will stream into car stereos, laptop computers, circuit boxes and all kinds of electrical devices and short circuit them. People who study such things believe that when a Crazy Ant is electrocuted it releases a chemical that prompts hordes of fellow ants to come swarming, looking for the attacker who killed their fellow ant.
   These little fellows have huge colonies, much larger than other ants, because each colony has multiple queens.
   Incidentally, the name Rasberry Crazy Ant has nothing to do with raspberries. It comes from Tom Rasberry, a tobacco-chewing exterminator who first discovered them in Texas. And, they got the "crazy" monicker because they run about erratically like someone on crack cocaine.
   So, if you are reading this on a smartphone or handheld tablet, be suspicious, and careful. Very, very scary.

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