Electric ants are known by many names in different regions of the world as this name is particularly common in Australia, but they are also called little fire and cocoa-tree ants.
Are Electric Ants Dangerous? Electric ants are dangerous insects because they cause significant reductions in crop yield, inflict long-lasting stings, and spread plant diseases. It can cause potential loss to tourism and a decline in the invertebrate population by displacing native ants or other creatures, damaging crops, and making animals blind.
Wasmannia auropunctata is a harmful and invasive ant species responsible for causing damage at a large scale in the past.
Why are electric ants dangerous?
Electric or little fire ants can cause significant damage to crops and disturb the environment by attacking other insects. They are dangerous due to the following reasons.
Reduction in crop yield
The little fire ants mutually associate with aphids for honeydew as they like to eat sweet secretions excreted by these soft-bodied creatures living on plants.
They protect aphids from predator attacks and allow them to complete their lifespan. This mutual relation provides the ultimate benefit to ants as they can eat their excrement for a long.
However, these sap-sucking aphids affect plant growth because they consume plant sap for their nutrition and produce honeydew.
Accordingly, it affects the crop yield because uncontrolled growth of aphids and other mealybugs or scale insects producing honeydew can lead to significant damage.
Many cases are reported for damage caused by electric ants as it leads to the burning of the sugarcane crop twice that was heavily infested with these insects.
Inflict long-lasting stings
They can also cause painful stings when they feel a risk of deadly attacks from predators. Moreover, they also sting to make their prey feel helpless due to extreme pain.
Their stings cause itchiness or swelling on the affected area and sometimes lead to the formation of pimples. You have to keep yourself covered to avoid exposure to these light brown insects.
Electric ants are one of the most invasive species of insects in the world and cause painful burning sensations when they inject poison into the prey’s body with the help of a stinger.
This burning and itching sensation remains for almost 10 to 15 minutes at a minimum and sometimes exceeds an hour, depending on the sensitivity.
Spread of plant diseases
They are not directly responsible for spreading plant diseases but promote aphid growth that ultimately allows fungi to grow on the plant surface.
The aphids release a sticky and sweet substance on the stem and leaves, which attracts sooty mold to grow on the plant and affects its development.
Moreover, you can see a black threadlike growth on the leaves of roses and other fruit plants, looking like soot and covering the surface of leaves properly.
It creates a barrier for sunlight to reach the leaves surface, so the plants cannot grow properly, and stunted growth is observed.
So, ants promote sap-sucking insects to release honeydew, which is responsible for fungal disease, and sooty mold is responsible for significant plant damage.
Increases crop treatments
The farmers or the garden owners have to increase the number of fungicidal treatments to plant for avoiding the risk of damage and protect the crop.
In addition, it is essential to control the infestation of aphids or particularly electric ants because these tiny insects are responsible for promoting aphid growth.
Insecticidal sprays can help deal with their infestation, and a heavy infestation requires more treatment. So, these additional treatments require more cost and feel like a burden for farmers.
Potential loss to tourism
An increased population of electric ants in the forests, gardens, and trees directly impacts tourism because their undesired entries make visitors fearful of stings.
It does not feel comfortable to sit in open areas or grounds where the nests of these little creatures are present, having thousands of insects inside.
Moreover, they can also reach the ground surface for food because the aroma of food attracts them to come out of their underground tunnels and reach the baskets.
I went for a picnic in a garden with my friends, and a long trail of these insects made their way to the food basket in a few minutes, resulting in food contamination; that was an awful situation.
Decline of invertebrate population
These are omnivorous insects that can eat living or dead insects and other invertebrates sharing habitat with them or living in surrounding areas.
They are efficient predators of smaller insects and animals as they use stings to initiate burning sensations on their bodies and restrict their movement.
In addition, they attack other ants’ species and displace native insects because their aggressive nature provokes them to eat other creatures.
They also attack smaller vertebrates and newly hatched animals as they are easy to kill by stinging their soft bodies.
So, this massive killing for food usually results in a significant decline in the invertebrate population and causes potential environmental disturbance.
Make animals or pets blind
You can estimate the level of danger associated with electric ants by knowing that they have the potential to make pet animals blind. Their stings are so painful to make them lose sight.
These insects get attracted to pet food bowls when they detect the presence of food in their enclosure. They can sting cats after getting inside the cat house to eat their food.
They can attack the cat if one of their fellows gets accidentally crushed by this feline fellow because these insects become aggressive after detecting a threat.
Accordingly, they begin to attack sensitive regions of their body, including the eyes and nose. Multiple stings in the eyes of animals can make them blind.
Are electric ant bites painful?
Electric ants can bite or sting and are considered poisonous for smaller insects and animals as their venomous sting can kill a prey animal.
They possess smaller teeth due to smaller body lengths that cannot cause deep injuries, but the venomous stings make them dangerous creatures.
Moreover, the pain lasts for a long time and needs proper treatment to disappear if these insects attack multiple times. Washing the affected area with soap for a few seconds is better.
Rinse the skin with cold water to remove soap, and use an ice pack to reduce the burning sensation. You can also use some oral medications or topical creams to reduce itchiness.
Furthermore, it is better to seek help from a physician if the rashes or swelling do not disappear in a few hours.
Where are electric ants found?
Electric ants are commonly found in regions of South and Central America as native species, but these insects are also reported in Africa and Hawaii.
Moreover, they do not build larger mounds above the ground connected to deep tunnels under the ground. These insects are usually found to be living in potted plants and rotting tree trunks.
Their colonies invade ground surfaces under leaf litter, bigger stones, and garden waste. They infest areas around humid places, like water streams and swimming pools.
In addition, some of these insects are also seen to establish their colonies indoors, like wall cavities, wooden furniture, bedding, and even clothing, when they find food stains.
So, it is essential to keep indoors clean and reduce the sources of attraction for these tiny creatures to protect yourself from their stings.