Recently, while gardening, I found under a rock, a nest of funny ants with hundreds of eggs. Funny ants (Paratrechina longicornis) are popularly known as crazy ants; they are also called longhorned crazy ants, or longlegged crazy ants. In Jamaica, some persons call these ants, “mad ants”.
I understand that these ants are commonly called “crazy ants” because instead of following straight lines (like other ants do), they dash around erratically. This is the main characteristic of this type of ant – the way that the worker ants move around jerkily in apparently random directions. I read that crazy ants are highly versatile, living in both moist and dry habitats. Their nests can be found inside hollow trees, under loose bark, in rotten wood, under logs or stones, among rubbish, and under undisturbed debris inside buildings.
They nest in rotten wood, soil, the cavities of trees and plants, trash, under rocks, and under buildings. The nests of crazy ants can also survive in water as in beaches, since air bubbles trapped within the nest keep the ants alive. Crazy ants cannot survive extremely cold climates and may infest houses and buildings when the weather changes.Crazy ants are general scavengers and will readily be attracted to edible sweet substances. They have a great sense of smell and are usually found invading homes in search of sugary foods. These ants will quickly find any food in the area and will readily feed on common household foods including meat, sweets, vegetables, and syrups.
These ants are known worldwide as an invasive species, and environmental pests. Funny ants are omnivorous and feed on seeds, insects (live or dead), honeydew, plant secretions, fruits, and a range of household food items such as sweets, meats, grease, and liquids. Large food items may be moved by several ants working together.
Throughout the year, their feeding preference changes. During summer, they feed on high protein foods; and during spring and autumn, they consume honeydew, and may tend aphids, mealybugs and scale insects so as to maximise the secretions they produce. The antennae and legs of the crazy ants are very long. I read that the crazy ant uses its 12-segmented antennae as a sense organ to ‘hear’ vibrations as they lack ears. The antennae is also used for the other senses such as smell, touch and taste.
Ants see each other’s movements with their compound eyes. Movement is more noticeable to the ant than shape. Crazy ants consist of worker ants, queen ants, and males. The queen ant is the only one that is allowed to mate and she does this during a short period of time. When she obtains the sperm, it is with her for the rest of her life span since they never re-mate.
Queens live from 5 – 30 years and are the longest living insects. Workers live from 1 – 3 years, and reproductive males live for a few months since their only purpose is to mate.These ants go through complete metamorphosis since the eggs develop into larvae, which develop into pupae, which then develop into adults. The larva is fed a highly nutritious substance secreted by workers. The eggs laid by the queen is cared for by herself. Crazy ants do not sting people as they lack a stinger, but they are capable of biting. After a worker ant bites, it then curves its abdomen forwards and secretes formic acid onto the wound. Links:
* researchgate.net/publication …