Sunday, May 18, 2008

Not Your Usual Computer Bug

Last winter our house was infested with ants. More specifically, by "sweet-eating ants", little red buggers that love nothing more than to get into any remnant of sweet foods left in your kitchen, like un-rinsed pop cans, sugar bowls, glasses that had held juice, and sugary cereal boxes. Trust me, when you have two small children with two working parents and precious little time to clean anything thoroughly, there is PLENTY for these f*ckin' ants to eat, anywhere in the house. Trust me, we fought them long and hard.

And then one evening my lovely wife told me she had found a "highway" of ants traveling down our bedroom wall and into a pile of clean laundry I had not put away for, oh, two weeks or so (did I mention that we have precious little time to clean anything thoroughly?) on the night stand next to my side of the bed. Shaking my head and wondering why, in the name of E.O. Wilson, these little insects could possibly be attracted to my horribly unfashionable garments, I marched into our bedroom, found the line of ants, and proceeded to dig through the pile of clothes looking for some half-eaten Pot-Tart my kids may have sequestered there. In my rummaging, I accidentally knocked my digital alarm clock off the night stand.

When the clock hit the floor, it positively exploded with ants.

Aghast, I grabbed the clock and, ignoring the army of ants running up my arms, put the clock outside so the little monsters would freeze in the winter air. After shaking them off of my body, I went back to the bedroom and proceeded to slap and stomp to death about a zillion of them next to my bed (I'm exaggerating. It was only half a zillion).

Then I took a big Ziplock, placed the alarm clock in it, and put the sealed alarm clock into my freezer overnight. By the next morning, this little nest of ants was dead. I shook out the dead ants as best as I could, then tentatively plugged the clock back in, half expecting a fiery short circuit, but the clock has worked fine ever since. No doubt there a hordes of dead ants still inside. I can still see one inside the faceplate. Eventually we got an exterminator to control the infestation.

HERE is a rather entertaining video where some ants made a nest in some poor sucker's computer mouse!

This is nothing new. Having once been an entomologist, I've noted news stories off and on over the years of ants forming nests in breaker boxes and various appliances, even computers. No one is sure why ants can be attracted to electricity.

Lately a news story has been going around about an invasion of "Crazy Ants" in the Houston area:

http://www.physorg.com/news130001024.html

News videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyLfSemVM3Y

These species of ant (scientifically named Paratrenicha species near pubens) are only about the size of a flea and race around in a seemingly random manner, thus the name, and are native to the Caribbean and the southeast of the U.S. This invading population, however, seems more rampant than the others, having apparently arrived in Texas by way of a cargo ship. A fellow by the name of Tom Rasberry, an exterminator, has been leading the charge in popularizing this invasion (and, apparently, generating much more business for himself. He was recently hired by NASA to guard the Johnson Space Center against the ants) and has even gotten his name attached to them, as many media outlets are reporting the species common name as "Crazy Rasberry Ants". Not only are the ant colonies spreading, but they have been shorting out electrical devices in the area, including fuse boxes and computers (see picture).

They are resistant to ant sprays, have multiple queens per nest, and spread quickly.

The good news is that they eat fire ants. If you've ever been stung by fire ants, as I have, you'll be happy to hear this. Texas is overrun with fire ants (another introduced ant species that shorts out electrical boxes, I might add).

So the next time you have an ant infestation in your home, and you can't find the nest, check your electrical box, appliances, laptop, and your frickin' alarm clock, especially if you're in the Houston area. There may be a different sort of computer bug living in there!


Image taken from HERE.

28 comments:

Davey said...

Thanks you for this! Very reassuring as I had just discovered an massive infestation of ants in my computer mouse. No ants anywhere else, one of the craziest things I've seen. Your article helped me believe what my eyes were seeing.

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