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Science in Brief

The invasion of the 'crazy Rasberrys'

May 17, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

In what sounds like a really low-budget horror film, voracious swarming ants that apparently arrived in Texas aboard a cargo ship are invading homes and yards across the Houston area, shorting out electrical boxes and messing up computers.

The hairy, reddish-brown creatures are known as "crazy Rasberry ants" -- crazy, because they wander erratically instead of marching in regimented lines, and "Rasberry" after Tom Rasberry, an exterminator who battled them early on.

The ants -- formally known as "paratrenicha species near pubens" -- have spread to five Houston-area counties since they were first spotted in Texas in 2002.

Scientists are not sure exactly where the ants came from, but their cousins, commonly called crazy ants, are found in the Southeast and the Caribbean.

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