Hairy crazy ants (tawny crazy ants) are in the international media once again. A segment of an episode of “Infested” is currently airing on the Animal Planet network. I was interviewed this past fall for the show. Episodes on Infested are not meant to be scientific studies, but rather dramatizations showing worst case scenarios of various pest species of animals. However, in this case, the producers did a pretty good job of not exaggerating the problems posed by crazy ants, and in general the show was fairly accurate scientifically. This species of ant, now know to be Nylanderia fulva, a South American species, is indeed a serious pest. Extremely high populations cause serious nuisance issues, reduce biodiversity, and commonly short out electrical equipment. Learn more about the crazy ant at the MEM ant site [link].
The format of Infested shows features interviews with homeowners and specialists (in this case, me) and reenactments featuring Canadian actors who resemble the actual people involved.
This episode can still be viewed on the Animal Planet network, or can be viewed online at: ”http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/infested/videos/hairy-crazy-ant.htm“
The Mississippi Entomological Museum ant collection continues to expand due to lots of collecting by the MEM Staff, donations and exchanges with wonderful collectors from across the United States, screening of various traps run by APHIS, and retention of borrowed material.
Notable donations from the last few years include ants collected from the Smokey Mountains and southern MS (including Horn Island) by Tim Lockley (MS); cavity nesting species collected from various locales by Rick Duffield (MD); and ants collected in Arkansas by Dave General and Lynn Thompson (truckload of vials). Smaller donations have by made by numerous collectors such as Heath Richter (Mobile, AL); Doug Booher (Athens, GA); Matt Blaine; Mark Deyrup (Archbold Biological Station, FL); Julian Relasco (Gainesville, FL); Michael Skvarla (AR); Paul Davison (AL); Jian Chen (Stoneville, MS); Stoy Hedges; and a bunch of other awesome ant collectors!
Additionally, we are building up large quantities of ants in vials from APHIS collections that our screened by MEM staff. This includes material from across the Southeast, but especially from MS, AL, and KY.
Exchanges have been quite useful as well and this past year we obtained some exquisitely pinned material from the western US from Robert Hamton (CA). Of course, numerous specimens have been retained from various institutions and/or researchers who either loaned us material or had me identifying material for them.
The influx of material is impossible to keep up with, but gradually is and will be looked at and incorporated into the collection.
Well, I decided to start a blog about ant of the Southeast. Why not, I have lots of info.