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Ants Are Taking Over New York City Apartments

By: Jacob Yang

New Yorkers are seeing a new ant - dubbed “ManhattAnt” - take over their apartments.

Katie Guhl, New York resident, left her apartment towards the end of May for a New Orleans wedding and New Jersey memorial day gathering. Her apartment was near-immaculate when she left, so, when Katie came back to see ants crawling all over her kitchen, she was quite confused and angry. She stated, “There were no crumbs to be had,” but what puzzled her the most was that she lived on the 6th floor; how could ants be invading any home that high?

Guhl wasn’t alone in her confusion. On Reddit in the r/Brooklyn forum, a user 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.” Soon after, another person responded with, “I worked in an apartment building, and the 25th floor had ants in midtown.”

Melissa Russell Paige, a Brooklyn inhabitant stated that “they just showed up one day.” She has lived in her apartment for almost a decade now and “never saw an ant even once.” She then shared a photo of three liquid ant baits, each clogged with ants.

At Kennesaw State University in South Georgia Dr. Clint Penick’s social insects lab, graduate student Samantha Kennett said that the whole event was exciting. Lasius emarginatus, an invasive species from Europe that came to America through ships, was the species of ant causing the whole ordeal, according to Miss Kennett. She said that “[her] 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”

““It forages in trees … It climbs a lot. They found it in second story buildings in Europe,” she said. Now, the ant is in America where it’s climbing the skyscrapers of NYC. Miss Kennett added that they inhabited almost all parts of the city. “We found them in Times Square … They are everywhere.”

Lasius emarginatus, nicknamed the ManhattAnt, was confirmed to be the ants from Ms. Russell Paige’s apartment, as well as others from r/Brooklyn. Miss Kennett started Project ManhattAnt, a website that allows residents to inform people about their sightings. “We’ve started to see populations pop up in New Jersey and as far as Long Island.”

Dr. Robert Dunn from North Carolina State University said that the ants were only trying to find a source of water inside of apartments, not to scavenge for any leftover food. They eat other insects and honeydew. To get rid of these ants, many people used liquid ant bait to kill the ants quickly. However, they are only active from April to June. The rest of the year, they are fairly dormant.

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