Syndicate content

Rasberry Ants on the March

The invasion of a new species of ant (Rasberry ants) has scientists intrigued, businesses concerned, and fire ants running for the hills, said Dr. Jerry Cook, an entomologist at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Cook and other scientists are at a loss to explain the fast and furious spread of the rapacious ant, which is named after exterminator Tom Rasberry, who discovered the ant in 2002. The ant was discovered in Houston in 2002 and has quickly spread as far north as Louisiana and Mississippi within the last year. "This is a species that we do not know much about. Presumably the ant came from the Caribbean through the Port of Houston," Dr. Cook said. "We know the ant is in the Paratrechina genus and is capable of growing a population of billions and they need to eat. They especially like other bugs, like fire ants and honey bees." The population is growing so fast, and so large, that it is potentially an ecosystem disaster, according to Dr. Cook. "If the Rasberry ant can virtually eliminate a pain like the fire ant, what else is it capable of doing?" he asked. "If bees are eliminated, plants will not be pollinated which could result in the lack of crops producing fruits and vegetables. That in turn becomes a major problem for the agriculture community. They could become more than a nuisance, they could become a danger." Dr. Cook emphasized the need for funding for research targeted at better understanding of the Rasberry ant. [Press release]