A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from May 16, 2008
Crazy Rasberry Ant (Rasberry Ant; Crazy Ant; Caribbean Crazy Ant)

Tom Rasberry, owner of Budget Pest Control in the Pearland area (near Houston), discovered an ant in 2002 that didn’t appear to be like the fire ants typically found in Texas. This ant does not have a formal name, but has been dubbed the “Crazy Rasberry Ant” or “Rasberry Ant” after Tom Rasberry (not the “raspberry” fruit). Texas A&M researchers have titled it: “Exotic Texas Ant, Paratrechina sp. near pubens.” It is similar to the “Crazy ant, P. longicornis.”
The Crazy Rasberry Ant may be similar to the Caribbean Crazy Ant that is found in Florida. The Crazy Rasberry Ant caught wide public attention in May 2008, when the ants attacked electrical equipment in Houston and caused concerns at the Johnson Space Center.
Center for Urban & Structural Entomology (Texas A&M)
Exotic Texas Ant, Paratrechina sp. near pubens

This ant has yet to be identified to species due to confusion regarding the taxonomy of the genus. Therefore, this ant is referred to as Paratrechina sp. nr. pubens. Research concerning the morphology and phylogenetics (Jason Meyers, Ph.D. student), for identification purposes, is ongoing. Although, there is no properly accepted common name (via the Code of Zoological Nomenclature nor the Entomological Society of America) there are a couple of common names often used for this species. The common name used most often is the Caribbean crazy ant (for Paratrechina pubens). However, here in Texas, more specifically in the Houston area, the common name often referenced is the crazy rasberry ant (for Paratrechina sp. nr. pubens). If you are a pest control operator and you suspect your client may have these ants, please contact Jason Meyers at the Center for Urban & Structural Entomology. Please send samples in sealed vials.
Special Concerns   
They have been known to short out many different types of electrical apparatuses. In some cases the ants have caused several thousand dollars in damage and remedial costs. These ants often cause great annoyance to residents and businesses. In some situations, it has become uncomfortable for residents to enjoy time in their yards. Companion animals may, in some cases, avoid the outdoors as well.
These ants do not have stingers (unlike the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta). In place of a stinger, is an acidopore, which can excrete chemicals for defense or attack. These ants, will however, bite. This behavior seems to be rare, but in some cases they will bite, causing a relatively sharp but quickly fading pain.
Another species of Paratrechina, fulva, has caused great pestilence in rural and urban areas of Colombia. In many cases, they displaced all other ant species. Small livestock (e.g. chickens) may die of asphyxia. Larger animals, such as cattle, are attacked around eyes, nasal fossae and hooves. They have also dried grasslands due to their association with homopterans.
*Special Note: Crazy ant, P. longicornis, may in some cases create massive, but localized numbers. These species look similar but have marked differences. P. longicornis antennae and legs are significantly longer than that of P. sp. nr. pubens. P. longicornis thorax is extended in length considerably, compared to that of many other Paratrechina species. Although the use of color as an identification tool is not to be relied upon, the crazy ant is often jet black in color, especially when compared to the typically reddish-brown of P. sp. nr. puben.

Coloration: reddish-brown (lightness/darkness of the color may vary)
Body 1/8 inch in length (monomorphic)
Body has numerous long coarse hairs
Workers have long legs and antennae
However, not as long as the crazy ant, P. longicornis
Workers have 12-segmented antennae with no club
Small circle of hairs (acidopore) present at tip of the abdomen (as opposed to the typical stinger found in most ants)
This is a characteristic of formicine ants found within the Formicinae subfamily  
Nest primarily outdoors, but will forage in homes
Will nest under most any object that retains moisture
They are omnivorous
Tend homopterous insects (aphids, leaf hoppers, etc.) for honeydew (liquid with high content of sugar)
Consume other insects, small vertebrates for protein
Morphological description is very similar to P. pubens (often referred to as the Caribbean crazy ant, however not an accepted common name by the Entomological Society of America)
Currently, little is known regarding specific biology of this ant. Texas A&M’s Center for Urban and Structural Entomologyis currently investigating food source attraction (Rachel Wynalda, M.S. student), colony growth and immature development (Jason Meyers, Ph.D. student). However, research regarding other Paratrechina species is available and may offer close approximations of this species.
Colonies are polygyne (multiple queens) with moderately sized numbers (~several hundred to few thousand). However, size of the colony can be much greater, especially when considering their unicolonial (supercolony) behavior. The colonies can be found under or within almost any object or void, including stumps, soil, concrete, rocks, potted plants, etc.
P. sp. nr. pubens have been found in enormous numbers and colonies that seem to be indistinguishable from one another. P. sp. nr. pubens foraging trails are quite apparent (≤ 10cm) and individuals forage erratically, hence the typical reference to “crazy” ant. These foraging trails will often follow structural guidelines, however large trails can be found in open areas. P. sp. nr. pubens will consume honeydew produced by homopteran insects. These ants will also eat other insects and small vertebrates.  No nuptial flights have been observed in the field, despite winged reproductives. This may indicate the species propagates via budding with breeding occurring at/near the edge of the nest, creating new colonies at the periphery
This species has only been known in the state of Texas since 2002. Since that time, remarkable numbers can be found in several different locations in the surrounding area of southeast Houston, including Houston, Pasadena, Deer Park, Friendswood, San Jacinto Port, Pearland, Seabrook and La Porte. There are a few other suspected areas, however, samples have not been confirmed. It is suspected that the spread of this ant will undoubtedly reach well beyond the Houston area. This ant currently infests Brazoria, Galveston and Harris counties.
Hulett Environmental Services
Paratrechina pubens
Caribbean Crazy ants are golden-brown to reddish-brown in color, and are covered with dense hairs. After feeding, their abdomen will appear to be striped due to the stretching of the light colored membrane that connects the segments of the abdomen.
Range from 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch in length.
The Caribbean Crazy ant will scavenge for a wide variety of solid and liquid foods, such as seeds, fruits, garbage, honeydew, and practically any household food. They are also predatory and will attack other insects. They get their name partly from their erratic and rapid movement. Caribbean Crazy ants will forage much more erratically than other ants and form much looser trails.
In the last few years, most of the reports of Caribbean Crazy ant infestations have come from pest control operators in and around South Florida. Trails consisting of thousands of Caribbean Crazy ants have been observed along sidewalks, buildings, and gardens.
Unique Characteristics:
Reports of this ant in Florida date back to the mid 1950s, but infestations were uncommon until the late 1990s. However, Caribbean Crazy ants have become a severe problem in South Florida recently. They can be very difficult to control because of their extremely large numbers. 
The Facts (Brazoria County, TX)
Crazy ant has scientists befuddled
By Nathaniel Lukefahr
The Facts  
Published October 8, 2007
An ant found in West Columbia last week has experts raising a few questions.
The same type of ant was discovered on Texas soil five years ago by a Pearland exterminator, and scientists are not sure where it came from, exactly how it got here and what species it is.
“It is a mystery,” Budget Pest Control owner Tom Rasberry said.
Rasberry discovered the species while on the job in an industrial area of Pasadena and immediately alerted the experts at the Texas A&M University entomology department. It since has been dubbed the Crazy Rasberry Ant or the Caribbean Crazy Ant.
The ant is smaller than an average fire ant and is a reddish-brown color. Its body is about an eighth of an inch long and it is a fast mover. It also has long legs.
Before Rasberry’s discovery, the ant had been found in Florida. But scientists are not positive how it made its way across the Gulf of Mexico. Since 2002, its colonies have appeared in the Houston suburbs of Pearland, Conroe and Deer Park.
Tom Rasberry, , an exterminator, lets ‘crazy rasberry ants’, named after him, crawl on his arm, Tuesday, May 13, 2008, in Deer Park, Texas. The ants are throwing off the balance of nature as they feast on beneficial insects, researchers say, noting that even the hatchlings of the endangered Attwater Prairie Chicken are at risk from these omnivores. They’re invading homes and shorting out electrical boxes and electronics by getting their tiny bodies wedged into the intricate equipment. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Boing Boing
Crazy rasberry ants devour Houston’s electronics
Posted by Cory Doctorow, May 15, 2008 3:44 AM | permalink
Houston is a-swarm with “crazy rasberry ants”—an exotic species that eats fireants and electronic equipment. The “crazy” part is that they kind of wobble and weave when they walk. They have multiple, exterminator-resistant queens, and are attacking the local animal population as well.
‘Crazy’ Ant Invasion Frying Computer Equipment
By Andrew R Hickey, ChannelWeb
1:29 PM EDT Thu. May. 15, 2008
There’s a new bug crawling around that can wreak real havoc on computer equipment. And this bug isn’t the kind you get through an email or an infected instant message, but an actual, physical insect. To battle this bug, it’s more likely that the Orkin man is the one you’ll call instead of McAfee, Symantec (NSDQ:SYMC) or some other computer security specialist.
Dubbed the ‘crazy rasberry ant,’ the flea-sized pests have been causing power surges and frying computers and other electronics around Houston for days. By some estimates billions of ants have swarmed the area.
Along with crippling computers at some homes and business, this infestation of exoskeleton-bearing annoyances has ruined pumps at sewage pumping stations, destroyed gas meters and caused fire alarms to malfunction, according to the Associated Press. And while no major problems have been reported, the crazy critters have also been spotted at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and close to the Hobby Airport.
The crazy rasberry ants, called crazy because of their affinity for moving erratically in search for food as opposed to in orderly lines like normal ants, are a new species believed to have arrived in Houston via a cargo ship possibly from South Africa or the Caribbean.
New York (NY) Times 
Houston Journal
A Pest Without a Name, Becoming Known to Ever More
Published: May 16, 2008
HOUSTON — Look out, Texas Gulf Coast, here comes Paratrechina pubens, or something like that.
Scientists do not quite know what to call them, they are so new. But folks in the damp coastal belt south of Houston have their own names (some of them printable) for the little invaders now seemingly everywhere: on the move underfoot; infesting woodlands, yards and gardens; nesting in electrical boxes and causing shorts; and even raising anxiety at Hobby Airport and the Johnson Space Center.
“We call them running ants,” said Diane Yeo, a homeowner in suburban Pearland, turning over a planter by her swimming pool to reveal a seething carpet of ants, yes, running, each about the size of the letter “i” on this page.
That was not the worst of it. “Looks like they’re carrying eggs,” said her husband, Bob.
The ant is a previously unknown variety with a staggering propensity to reproduce and no known enemies. The species, which bites but does not sting, was first identified here in 2002 by a Pearland exterminator, Tom Rasberry, who quickly lent his name to the find: the crazy rasberry ant.
“I sprayed some pesticide just to knock them down,” Mr. Rasberry recalled on Thursday. “But the next year I went from seeing a couple thousand to millions of them.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Friday, May 16, 2008 • Permalink

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