If you had a time machine and were to travel a billion seconds into the past you would end up in 1959, dial that machine to a billion minutes and you just might see Jesus walking the streets of Galilee. One more click of that dial to a billion hours in the past and you would literally be in the day of the cave man. A billion is a huge number and very hard to comprehend and I show you these examples to put in perspective the estimated numbers of the Rasberry Crazy Ant. While some ant species can number in the thousands and a few ‘super’ colonies can hit a million or more, the Rasberry Ant easily gets into the billions and what’s more amazing this entire population can be found all inside of an acre.
“One way to tell if it’s Rasberry Ants infesting your property is by the sheer numbers, by the 2nd year there can be 17 billion ants per acre and the 3rd year is just wicked. It looks like the entire ground is moving.” Tom Rasberry Budget Pest Control
You may have noticed that Mr. Rasberry has a very similar name to the ants in question, that’s because he actually discovered them in 2002. With over 29 years of experience Tom has seen a lot of insects and many odd things over the years. One day while at an industrial complex he noticed an ant that he had not seen before and this definitely caught his attention and started his quest for some answers. Being a veteran of Texas pest control and involved in things like shaping WDI regulations and co-opting research studies with Texas A&M as well as many chemical companies, Tom had some numbers he could call.
For whatever reason his discovery wasn’t met with the greatest of enthusiasm and it seemed that no one could even guess at the magnitude of this most serious find. Tom spent 1000’s of hours in research and study on his own and was persistent in bringing to light the then un named ant.
The owner of Budget Pest Control wasn’t (and still isn’t) looking for any accolades or feathers he could put in his companies cap. His personal reputation as an involved leader and A.C.E. (Associated Certified Entomologist) was already well known and his company has been cemented at the top of the Houston Bay area for quite some time. What Tom wanted first and foremost was to put a name to this ant because with that he could devise a way to treat it. Was it a fire ant, crazy ant or off shoot of something else? To most an ant is just an ant but to a professional, identification is what separates a failed treatment from a successful one. Tom also had this tussle with the Asian roach which I can attest to here in Florida. No industry expert wanted to hear what the great unwashed had to say about this NEW roach that looked every bit like a german cockroach except it flew like a bird and was actually attracted to lights.
With the persistence of a bulldog Tom continued in his quest and finally got important people to listen. Much research has since been done on the ant and ways to combat it. Tom was instrumental in getting a ‘special crisis exemption’ passed in the state that allows Termidor to be used at a 3 foot up and 10 feet out application. Actually he wrote it so you can see by now people had taken notice and were finally listening to what he had to say.
This ant is actually a relative of the crazy ant which has been around for quite some time. Tom believes the Rasberry version was introduced into Texas before 2002 and more than likely Florida as well. A ‘tramp’ ant, it does not spread by mating flights but rather hitches a ride on container trucks or ships in produce or product. Once it’s established in an area they quickly take over and the numbers become completely staggering. From 2005 to 2009 they went from 2 locations in one county to 14 counties in one state and spread to Louisiana and the edge of Mexico.
With all this going on there still wasn’t a name for this new ant that now everyone was taking seriously. At a dinner meeting with Dr. Gold of A&M and Dr.Bobby Corrigan of Kentucky the subject of naming this ant came up. Tom could care less what they called it and only wanted to be able to kill the things before they infested his customers that he took such good care of. It was explained to Mr. Rasberry that insect names often came from the persons name who discovered them. The Doctors also said they knew plenty of other entomologists that search the woods every weekend hoping to find a new species of anything so that their names would ever be associated with a great find and written about in studies and journals for years to come. They thought Tom would be crazy to pass up this once in a lifetime chance that others would die for. That seemed odd to Tom but reluctantly he gave in to the notion and thus the Rasberry Crazy Ant was born.
Since then the name has changed a bit as a joke but now seems to be the official moniker that our grandchildren will one day read about in science classes across the land. Sometime in between dissecting a frog and and learning about earths gravitational pull they’ll come to the chapter of this ant that would have marched by the billions across America. It’ll be the chapter title The Crazy Ant and it’s reluctant Rasberry namesake.