HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - They're called Hairy Crazy Ants, also known as Caribbean and Raspberry Crazy ants. But whatever you call them, they are terrorizing several coast communities.
We first told you about the invasive species a year ago when they were discovered in Hancock County's Lakeshore community and in a Jackson County neighborhood. Now WLOX News has learned the Crazy Ants have now spread to Harrison County.
You can find thousands of the ants on Ray Ladner's property in Hancock County's Lakeshore community.
"They are getting thicker and thicker, and they hatch over night they hatch by the thousands and it don't take long," said Ray Ladner.
They don't sting or bite, but they are very destructive.
"The ants are attracted to electronics so they can be a financial problem because of the damage to those devices," explained Christian Stephenson, an Agent for Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
"A lot of folks down there have wells. They are getting into their pumps, causing their pumps to go out, and they are out of water. It's a serious problem," said Hancock County District 1 Supervisor David Yarborough.
The small insects can cause big problems indoors as well.
"I've had to change electrical switches in the house where they get in there and destroy the electrical," Ladner said.
According to Stephenson, Hairy Crazy Ants are a serious problem. He said up until now, the ants had been contained to two areas on the coast: Hancock and Jackson counties. Now, they've spread to Harrison County.
"The record we have from Harrison County is off of Cowan Lorraine Road, which would be north of the interstate," said Stephenson.
Stephenson said totally eradicating the ants is impossible, but baits and pesticides can control the population. County leaders hear from residents almost daily who say managing the pests is costly.
Supervisor Yarborough said, "I get a lot of requests for relief, but legally, I can't go on private property and do anything about it. What we've been trying to do is find some grants. So far, we've been unsuccessful on that one."
He and residents like Ray Ladner hope some state or federal agency can offer some relief.
"I think we all need to get together and pull together, the county and the government, everybody, and let's stop them before they take over the country," said Ladner.
Experts say the Crazy Ants originated in South America and somehow made their way to Florida, Texas and surrounding states. Stephenson said the ants like to colonize underneath things. He said the best way to prevent the spread of the pests is to be careful when picking up and transporting items in your yard.