By Sarah Moore
One is tiny, reddish brown and moves quickly and erratically.
The other is red, slightly larger, slower but with a vicious sting to ward off intruders.
Although the first, the tawny crazy ant (AKA the Rasberry crazy ant, named for Tom Rasberry, the exterminator who first discovered their presence in Texas) doesn’t sting, its impressive numbers and free ranging habits are a nuisance in themselves.
And although the second, the fire ant, has a painful sting that can be dangerous to babies, the elderly and other vulnerable individuals, it is a familiar enough pest throughout the south that most people have developed strategies for coping with it.
Homeowners and entomologists are divided on which they would rather find on their property.
Not that you actually get a choice.
Being insects, they operate with little regard for human wishes.
Fortunately, however, you probably won’t have both at once – or not for long, anyway.
Entomologists say possibly the only saving grace of the tawny crazy ant is that despite its smaller size, it offers the fire ant a run for its money when it comes to habitat, overrunning fire ant mounds and sending them packing.
Since Rasberry first discovered the ants in the Pasadena area in 2002, they’ve been confirmed in 24 Texas counties, according to the Texas A&M Center for Urban and Structural Entomology.
Barry Bryant of Bill Clark Pest Control said his company has gotten calls about the pests in Jefferson, Hardin, Orange and Chambers counties.
“They are spreading rapidly,” he said.