"Ant Battle! Tawny Crazy Ants Take on Fire Ants -- And Win"

"Across the southeastern United States a battle is raging -- ant against ant."

"On one side are the dreaded fire ants, armed with a venom that is painful to humans and often fatal to competing insects.

On the other side are the tawny crazy ants -- smaller, stinger-less, but equipped with a secret weapon that allows them to defeat the fire ants time and time again.

As scientists have recently discovered, the tawny crazy ants can secrete a chemical antidote to the fire ants' poison that is also a venom itself. And though this venom doesn't kill the fire ants, it appears to force them into retreat.

"As this plays out, unless something new and different happens, crazy ants are going to displace fire ants from much of the southeastern U.S. and become the new ecologically dominant invasive ant species,"  Edward LeBrun, a researcher at the Fire Ant Research and Management Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement."

Deborah Netburn reports for the Los Angeles Times February 13, 2014.

Source: LA Times, 02/17/2014