Gamers report aptly named fire ants are causing their PCs to overheat

a single fire ant
(Image credit: Australian Department of Primary Industries / AAP)

All PC gamers come across a bug or two every now and then, but rarely like this. I'm talking about the real variety. That's right, some PC gamers have reported ant infestations in their PCs. That's bad enough in isolation, but these little blighters have been reported to damage thermal pads and thermal paste, leading to a rise in temperatures. 

Users on Reddit (via PCGamesN) have reported aptly named fire ants infesting PCs. The most recent example comes from Thejus_Parol on Reddit. Just like anyone that's experienced an ant invasion, Parol's eyes were drawn to a line of ants disappearing inside their PC case. An inspection revealed the buggers were swarming all over the GTX 1060 graphics card.

A GPU cooler showing possible Fir ant damage

(Image credit: Thejus_Parol / Reddit)

Parol reported an increase in temperatures, and though the thermal paste on the GTX 1060 GPU looks intact, there does appear to be some damage to the memory thermal pads. What's worse is that after a cleanup and the application of repellant over the desk and surrounding area, the pesky invaders returned.

There are other reports of ant infestations including this Crazy Ant infestation from a few years ago. This user filmed dozens of ants swarming all around an AIO cooler and graphics card.

Now, I'm no expert on Formicidae but according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, Red Imported Fire Ants are attracted to electrical fields and are known to damage a wide range of electrical devices—including computers. The are particularly invasive in the US and my home country of Australia.

I can imagine an ant or ten getting destroyed by a spinning fan releasing chemicals that attract more ants. If enough, umm, ant juice gets in the wrong place, it could cause short circuits and complete failures.

I know I hate ants running around in my house. They come inside looking for sources of water during summer, but if they were inside my PC I would be really pissed. Still, I'd rather that than something with eight legs or something bigger and hairier.

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Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.