Fire ants cause electrical problems for Rowlett neighborhood

After a Rowlett family began having electrical problems at their home, the power company came out to investigate only to find the source of the problem was a colony of fire ants.

Steve and Marilyn Nanney began to notice the small power surges in their home in January. But as they became more frequent, they decided to report it to ONCOR. The company sent someone out almost immediately Thursday night to find the source of the trouble.

“What he told one of the neighbors is one of the lines was eaten almost all the way through,” said Steve. “He indicated that there was a pile of ants like 15 inches high! Fire ants!

Mike Merchant, an entomologist with the Dallas Agrilife Research and Extension Center says he’s not surprised.

“Ants can get into electrical lines and they will actually chew through the insulation, causing shorts,” explained Merchant. “Other times, they will get into relay switches and pack them with their little bodies and cause the switches to go out. So it could be quite an expensive problem.”

The Nanneys say they are glad they called the power company and are apologetic to neighbors over the timing of the repairs as primetime TV was paused over some power-hungry ants.

Merchant say calls like this in the spring are just the beginning.

“You may see more problems in places where there is new construction or the ground is disturbed,” said Merchant.

The family in Rowlett is half a mile from the tornado path, so they did want their neighbors to be aware of the fire ant issues.

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