Who Has More Ants – Florida or Texas?
When it comes to crazies, Florida and Texas are in head-to-head competition. No I’m not talking about people (although I could be) I’m talking about crazy ants. The invasive species of South American psychotic ant, which first appeared in Texas in 2002, has now spread to Florida and other Gulf Coast states. Crazy ants swarm up people’s feet and bodies and reproduce in numbers so great that they die in huge piles – large enough to fill up garbage cans. Which state has more crazy ants? Well, you’d have to be crazy to try to answer that. A trillion here, a trillion there, after a while you’re talking about a lot of ants.
As far as ant species go, Florida has a bunch of different kind of ants. The Sunshine State spans seven degrees of latitude with weather zones ranging from temperate to tropical. With scads of rainfall and a rich diversity of plants and animals, Florida has lush forests of pine, oak, and hardwoods, as well as coastal marine ecosystems. Within this natural patchwork, entomologists have identified 221 ant species. Of these 52 are, like many Florida residents, vagabonds from other places. These exotics, like the crazy ant, are displacing the natives.
So how does Texas compare? Well, as any Texan will tell you, everything is bigger in Texas. That includes its immense distances, its diversity of habitats, and its geography. Parts of Texas are as far south as the Florida Keys so the state features multiple climate zones - ranging from the cold winters of the Panhandle to the steaming deserts of West Texas. And when it comes to the ant competition, with 261 species, Texas is the winner! Texas is home to all ten known North American subfamilies of ant from Amblyoponinae to Pseudomyrmecinae. So while no one can ever know the exact number of ants in the Sunshine State and the Lone Star State, when it comes to species counts - don’t y’all ever mess with Texas.