Recent Impact of the Crazy Ant: Animals Dying Blind and Damage in Forested Areas in Guanacaste, Warns Report

    It is about an invasive species native to South America, whose first traces in Costa Rica date back to 2016, specifically in Argentina de Grecia.

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    Crazy ants are killing animals such as snakes, turtles, coatis or birds, which often appear blind. But, in addition, these insects affect large, forested areas in Guanacaste, according to the most recent samplings carried out by specialists from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).

    It is an invasive species native to South America, whose first traces in Costa Rica date back to 2016, specifically in Argentina in Grecia. Today, these ants – whose name comes from their erratic way of walking – are scattered in numerous locations in the country. The State Phytosanitary Service detected outbreaks in the northern region, specifically in the towns of El Tanque, as well as in La Abundancia, Santa Rosa de Pocosol, and Los Lirios de Los Chiles. They are also in Orotina, Esparza, and in western cantons.

    A recent and detailed report prepared by SINAC confirms the severe impacts of this species in the Taboga Forest Reserve (RFT), in the UTN experimental farm and in adjacent sites, all of this in Guanacaste. “A very accelerated advance of the crazy ant towards the interior of the forest has been perceived. Literature says that the movement of this pest alone is approximately 65 meters per month. However, even though the samplings carried out in the RFT are preliminary, we have observed how this species advances even up to 240 meters per month”, the report explains.

    Animals lose their sight

    The text dated the 18th of this month details some of the negative consequences of the crazy ant, including “the agonizing, slow and painful death of animals”, which desperately try to remove the insects from their bodies. This action is often done blindly, since the animals have lost their vision due to the damage of this species.

    Animals with skin lesions are also reported. This increases the dramatic pictures because the crazy ant takes the opportunity to enter through those injuries and literally begins to devour the animals alive. And it is that this insect is omnivorous and obtains the protein from the secretions and soft tissues of animals.

    Other negative impacts

    The report signed by Juan de Dios Astorga, administrator of the ACT, points to other impacts of the crazy ant, no less important:

    • This insect is affecting arboreal fauna such as green iguanas, different species of wasps, bees and termites. As well as birds and their nesting processes.

    • The crazy ant is disturbing the white-faced or capuchin monkeys.

    • There is affectation in the naturally known symbiotic associations; 2 of the impacted species are the ants of the Azteca genus with the guarumo trees, as well as those of the genus Pseudomirmex with trees like the ant and cornizuelos.

    • Crazy ants carry many pathogens, such as viruses, fungi and bacteria, which infect and kill wild plants.

    • Significant increases have been observed in sapsuckers, such as mealybugs, aphids, and whiteflies. These insects maintain symbiotic relationships with the crazy ant; the latter protects them in exchange for taking advantage of the sugars that the sucker secretes after consuming the plant sap. In consequence, it affects the foliage and roots of the plants.

    In the final lines of the report, a call for attention is made in view -he wrote- that the so-called National Crazy Ant Commission was formed, but it disintegrated a month later. “Now comes a second commission formed just the week before. But we continue in the same thing: nothing has been done, the advances have been minimal. Meanwhile, the ecosystems and all the living beings that make it up are being affected and devoured by the crazy ant”, Astorga pointed out.

    Use of pesticides to fight crazy ants

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) issued a resolution last Wednesday that extends, until next December, the use of 3 products formulated against the local ant. “This plague is representing a high risk for crops such as sugar cane, coffee, ornamental plants, among others. It is also affecting people residing in those rural areas and is having an impact on wild animals. “For this reason, the decision is made to support their fight and will allow the use of insecticides, temporarily. This as part of the components of a bait that is prepared and placed in the nests, located in sugarcane plantations”, indicated Víctor Julio Carvajal, head of the MAG.

    The resolution establishes that the use of these products will be carried out in coordination with the technicians of the LigaAgrícola Industrial de la Caña (Laica). This in order to facilitate the baits to cane producers with “technical assistance so that the application is done correctly and effectively”, added the MAG.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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