Yellow Crazy Ants

The Yellow Crazy Ant species is believed to have originated from Africa but has since migrated throughout the Pacific region, often arriving by way of sea cargo.  Yellow Crazy ants have become one of the world´s “worst invaders” according to the World Conservation Union and are considered a major threat to biodiversity. These ants are currently a pest in Australia, Hawaii, and the Seychelles Islands, with large super-colonies on Christmas Island.  Yellow crazy ants are brownish-yellow in color.  In comparison to other ants, they are quite long, with some being over an eighth of an inch in length.

Yellow Crazy Ant

Yellow Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes)

Yellow crazy ants have multiple queens, just as other crazy ant species, and the same crazy, erratic behavior. These ants have also disrupted natural environments of wildlife, causing significant declines in native birds, animals, bee hives, and plants. Yellow crazy ants don´t sting – they spray formic acid as a defense mechanism, which in large amounts, may burn or irritate the skin and eyes of both humans and animals.

Crazy Ant Eating Habits

The Yellow crazy ant is also known as the Long-legged ant or Maldive ant and is a “scavenging predator,” meaning, it will eat just about anything dead or alive, and attack spiders, insects, earthworms, and other invertebrates. Yellow crazy ants will also consume seeds and grains but prefer carbohydrate-rich foods collecting honeydew from sap-sucking bugs such as aphids. They will also feed on plant nectar.

Yellow crazy ants eating a lizard.

Yellow Crazy ants carrying away a lizard.

Impact on Ecosystems by Yellow Crazy Ants

Out of all the crazy ant species, the Yellow crazy ant is considered the worst invader. Yellow crazy ants prefer tropical and subtropical climates but in northern Australia, they appear to thrive in rocky, dry areas as well as the grasslands, where there is an abundance of floral carbohydrates to feed on. The Yellow crazy ant seems to be very adaptable, destroying coffee, coconut, and other crops in their wake.

Red Crab of Christmas Island

Christmas Island´s red land crab has declined in numbers because of the Yellow crazy ant.

On Christmas Island, the Yellow crazy ant has killed and displaced the land crap, depleting the numbers of crabs which are so important to the island´s biodiversity. It´s the land crab that turns the soil in the island forest by digging burrows and fertilizing it with their droppings. Yellow crazy ants actually eat the crabs and use their burrows for their own nest. The damage these ants have done to the ecosystem on Christmas Island has been devastating for both animal and plant life.

Yellow crazy worker ants live about 76-84 days, whereas their queens can live for several years. Their success as a worldwide pest is due to their adaptability, and like other crazy ants, Yellow crazy ants have multiple queens that split into individual super-colonies. They can also mate with their siblings, without negative consequences. The amount of damage Yellow crazy ants have done to various islands and countries across the globe has earned them the name the “World´s Worst Invader.”

Controlling Yellow Crazy Ants

The infestation of Yellow crazy ants on Christmas Island was so bad that in 2009 they had to use helicopters to aerial bait the forest. In Australia, bait specifically developed for the Yellow crazy ant has been used with great success. The bait is low toxicity, designed for crazy ants and does not affect Australia´s wildlife.

Yellow crazy ants will nest in all kinds of material including potting mix; these ants are currently traveling the world through accidental methods by way of freight and by passengers. At the moment, Yellow crazy ants have only made it into the states as far as Hawaii. But, many Americans travel there and back to the mainland on a regular basis which could be a potential invasion just waiting to happen.

It´s important when visiting islands and countries infested by the Yellow crazy ant that travelers check their transported items such as potted plants, household goods, and machinery, for any of these “invaders.”

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