KENNER, La. - There is something very creepy now crawling through the Lincoln Manor Subdivision in Kenner.
They are pouring out of holes in the ground, scattering across backyard fences and getting into everything while scavenging for food.
It's the invasion of the raspberry crazy ants.
"At first I thought they were relatively benign," said Kenner homeowner Kevin Cahalan. "They don't seem to bite me or anything like that. But, they can be annoying. It's just that there's so many of them."
Cahalan's yard appears to be ground zero for the pests.
"Give them a day or two and they'll infest everything, the shed behind us, the plants that we're trying to grow in boxes, everywhere seems to have them," said Cahalan.
Linda Thymes' yard one street over is also infested.
"They're on the side of my side door, up under my carport, they're at the back patio, all over the place," said Tymes. "Then, they'll get inside the house."
Tymes says she thinks thousands of ants destroyed her air conditioner.
"I had... to get somebody to check my unit to see if the ants were in there," said Tymes.
Insect Ecology Professor Dr. Jerry Howard at the University of New Orleans says crazy ants arrived in the country from South America a few years ago and are now making their way across the southern U.S.
They get the name crazy ant because of the way they move," said Howard. "They move in a really jerky fashion. They don't follow trails in a progression like most ants seem to."
Howard says the ants are easy to identify.
"They have this little bit of a spidery appearance, compared to other pest ants. They're kid of honey colored or maybe a little darker than honey. If you look at them closely, they have a lot of rather long white hairs."
Neighbors say the crazy ants seem to have driven away their much larger and more aggressive cousins, the red fire ants.
"We have had a lot of red ants, however now we don't, now we don't," said Cahalan. "When I dig, I hardly ever see red ants."
"They're not competing directly with the fire ants in the sense that they're not fighting the fire ants. What they're doing is they're foraging so effectively and scavenging so much of the food, that the fire ants can't persist."
Dr. Howard says crazy ants are hard to get rid of and are attracted to even the smallest crumbs of food.
"I would use a liquid insecticide that you actually apply in the areas that are vulnerable to entry and not use the kind of baits you would use on fire ants where they pick it up and take it into their colony physically. Cleanliness in the house and guarding those points of access to your house are by far the most effective, most cost effective and the easiest strategies."
Kevin Cahalan says he's having some success with water and vinegar.
"We used to talk about our children and things like that, now we talk about the ants," said Cahalan. "I'd like to get back to normal."
Dr. Howard says crazy ants don't bite or sting and are relatively harmless, but he admits they are a true pest.