Forget the worn out 'the dog ate my homework' excuse, students and professionals alike may have a new, 21st Century excuse for missing deadlines. A non-native ant species, known popularly as the Crazy Raspberry Ant, has flourished in Texas and is swarming into homes and offices, in search of electronics.
It's not that the little guys are into gaming or advanced computer networking, but they are attracted to the magnetic fields emitted by electronic devices. The tiny pests are small enough to gain entry into computers through air vents or even USB ports. Once inside, they swarm all over the nice, warm circuits and short them out, causing fried chips and the occasional fire. When an ant is shocked or electrocuted, it releases a chemical pheromone that attracts its buddies, triggering a cascade that results in a buildup of dead ants that can cause further problems for the unfortunate computer.
Adding to the good news is the fact that Crazy Raspberry Ants are notoriously hard to kill. When they detect even a tiny amount of poison, they abandon their nests and move to safer quarters, and since few of us spray or dust our computers and flat screen TVs with insecticides, they follow the magnetic trails and take up residence in our pricey gadgets.
First detected in Houston in 2002, the ants have reproduced rapidly and are expected to be common throughout the South Eastern United States within a few years.
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