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Ants are climbing up buildings in N.Y.C

By: Claire Guo

Katie Guhl is just an ordinary woman living in New York City who is planning to attend a wedding in New Orleans on Memorial Day. She cleans up her apartment on the 6th floor of East 81st Street and leaves the tables and floor spotless.

When she comes back from the wedding, she sees ants crawling all over her floor. Livid, Katie spends days getting rid of the ants, wondering how they got there in the first place.

Unlike cockroaches or other pesty insects that sneak into high rises, ants are not usually found on high ground. However, scientists say that a particularly invasive ant species from Europe do enjoy going up high.

Katie isn’t the only one in N.Y.C suffering through this ant issue. On the r/Brooklyn forum on Reddit, an annoyed commenter wrote, “Woke up this morning to ants crawling around my living room. I live on the 3rd floor and have never had problems with any insects.” Furthermore, another person mentions that they worked on the 25th floor of an apartment and had ants crawling all over the place.

Melissa Russell Page, a person living on the second floor of a Brooklyn apartment says that in her eight years of living there, she had never saw a single ant until now. In a text message, she shares pictures of liquid ant baits that were filled with ants.

This ant infestation might be annoying for the people living in high rises, but to Samantha Kennett, a graduate student at Kennesaw State University in South Georgia, this was fascinating. Samantha Kent studies urban ant ecology, specifically, a species called Lasius emarginatus which were the pesky ants that thrived in apartment buildings. This species of ant was from Europe, but possibly arrived by ship to the U.S a couple of years ago.

“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.

Lasius emarginatus, nicknamed the ManhattAnt, foraged in trees back in Europe. That is why they climb up buildings. They were used to it and were expanding their habitat to urban structures. However, despite living in human apartment buildings, they did not eat human food. These ants still ate other insects which surprised Ms. Kennett.

To get rid of these ants, people dwelling in New York use liquid baits to trap these ants. However, Jerry Walsh of Mayday Hardware in Prospect Heights warns to not use any powerful ant baits at home.

“It’s a little too potent to use indoors because the ant does not drop dead on the spot. They will carry that poison wherever they travel. So you don’t want that going over your clean dishware. You’ll think that you have a 24 hour stomach virus when indeed what you’re experiencing is a mild case of stomach poisoning,” he stated.

Thankfully, at this point of the year, the ManhattAnts have calmed down and people no longer need to worry about getting rid of these ants from their homes.


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