While most ants feed on food remnants and other natural substances, such as wood, honeydew and the like, there are some ant species that eat through electrical wires and electronic equipment. A specific type of ant known as crazy raspberry ants became a major problem in Texas a few years ago when they began infesting and eating away at electronic appliances, such as computers, TVs and DVD players, resulting in massive electrical shorts all over the state.
Why They Do What They Do?
There is really no solid answer to the question of why ants would risk life and limb just to snack on wire insulation. Some experts have theorised that ants are attracted to electromagnetic energy, while others are more inclined to believe it is a natural survival instinct to find a more defensible nest inside electronic equipment. There also is another theory that concluded that ants, when electrocuted, produce a pheromone that attracts other ants to it, which could explain the crazy raspberry ant attack in Texas in 2008.
Crazy Raspberry Ants
The crazy raspberry ant has been the most damaging to electronic equipment. Not only do they like nesting inside electrical equipment, they eat through wire insulation easily. They are called "crazy ants" because they do not follow a predictable line of movement. The "raspberry" part of the name comes from the person who discovered the species, Tom Raspberry. The natural habitats for this species are trees and lumber, but they have been known to nest in other spaces, such as beneath carpets as well as within computers and other electronic devices.
Texas Leafcutter Ants
Texas leafcutter ants are not really known to be attracted to wires and electronic equipment, but they are designed with strong jaws, hard enough to chomp down on wood and metal. Texas leafcutter ants are normally situated in undisturbed fields and forests. The nests can cover extremely large areas, encompassing thousands of square feet, if left unfettered. Their primary food source is fungi found on leaves and on vegetation. However, they have been known to snack on food remains and are very capable on eating through wired insulation if the need presents itself.
While Argentine ants are not really known to eat through wire insulation and infest household electrical appliances, they are very capable. Although, Argentine ants are known to nest outdoors, they often find suitable nesting places inside people's homes, particularly the kitchen and anywhere else food is abundant. In South California, there have been cases where this particular species infested large colonies inside people's homes, even invading a number of household appliances.
Fire ants have become a major human health problem since its introduction in U.S. soil in the 1920s. Fire ant nests and mounds can be found all over the gulf coasts, as of the time of publication. They are territorial and extremely aggressive. While they may be found nesting in the soil, they have been known to infest homes by burrowing from beneath the foundation. When threatened, fire ants often attack the threat head on. One sting may not be a nuisance but a million bites can kill. And, they are capable of stinging through electrical wiring as well.