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Ant Species Infects New York Apartments

By: Austin Deng

City dwellers may assume that being infested with ants is something that happens in the suburbs, but New York City has recently seen a massive increase in ant infestations. Ants typically like to stick to parks and yards, but a species from Europe has recently made New York apartments it's home.

Samantha Kennett, a graduate from Kennesaw State University, studies Lasius emarginatus, the ant species that has recently taken over New York. “My research focuses on understanding how this ant, who is now one of the most common ants in New York City, has been able to be so successful, surviving in highly urban habitats,” said Ms. Kennett.

How high Lasius emarginatus, nicknamed the ManhattAnt, is willing to climb is unknown. The ManhattAnt forages high up in trees, and naturally climbs upward. Lasius emarginatus are able to be found all over New York’s trees, and are starting to infest apartment buildings.

Luckily, Kennet says that Lasius emarginatus isn’t likely to raid your pantry. “When ants are living in really urban habitats, they tend to eat a lot of human foods and they’re able to shift their diets towards more human foods. But this ant, even though it’s living in the most urban habitat, does not appear to be consuming human foods.”

Kennet recently started an online initiative, named Project ManhattAnt, which aims to identify and track the spread of Lasius emarginatus. Users can report sightings of the species, along with their location.

Even though Lasius emarginatus has been rapidly spreading throughout New York City, Jesse Scavella of Evergreen Eco Pest Control doesn’t think it’s a major issue. He stated that ants were always “consistent pests.” He believes that a bigger issue is the expanding rodent population. “The rodent population has increased drastically,” Scavella stated.

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