Sunday, May 18, 2008

Texas IT Has Bugs in Its System

We tend to forget that one of the first computer bugs was a real one. Texas computer users are rediscovering that first-hand.

The bugs in this case are crazy rasberry ants, named after the exterminator Tom Rasberry, who first identified them after they appeared in Texas in 2002. (You can see a recent video about the critters here.) The thing is, in the six years since their introduction to the state -- mostly in Houston-area counties -- they've been resistant to most conventional ant pesticides and multiplying like crazy.

Okay, so there are thousands of tiny ants swarming all over the place. It's a little creepy, but what does this have to do with technology?

Everything, it turns out, as the ants have wreaked havoc in the past when they've made their way into computers. Get enough ants on a circuit board and they can cause short circuits. A recent Computer Dealer News story refers to incidents in 2006 and 2007 where the ants shorted out computers in a Texas chemical company, affecting pipeline flow. They also refer to infestations in NASA's Johnson Space Center, which were fortunately contained.

It's like a bad horror movie, but it raises an important question -- what happens if they start infesting Houston proper? As the fifth-largest city in the US, technology disruptions could have a serious impact. Expect sleepless nights and a lot of foot-stompin' in the southwest's IT departments soon.

[Cross-posted from PC World.]

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Blogger James S. Huggins said...

Thanks for referencing my page at

As it turns out, I've been reading a lot about these ants ... the Rasberry Ants. They are also called Crazy Ants because they don't all walk in line like other ants but seem to run around crazy.

There's a brief Wikipedia article here

While I'm up in Dallas, I went to high school right by NASA down at Clear Lake and still get down every three to four weeks to check in on mother who lives just a stone's throw from the NASA facility. So, when I go down, I'm checking for them.

James S. Huggins

9:09 PM, May 18, 2008  

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