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Ants Discovered in Apartments in New York

By: Sophia Yingxuan Wang

A species of ants called Lasius emarginatus has been found in New York, climbing up apartments. It was quite confusing for most people at first, as they never had a problem with ants in their kitchen.

An example of this is when Katie Guhl, who lives in an apartment on the 6th floor in New York, left her home spotless before departing for a wedding. When she came back, she found a swarm of ants in her kitchen.

Melissa Russel Paige also had a similar experience. She said that she had “never seen an ant even once” in her 2nd floor apartment, and that the ants just “showed up one day”. Her upstairs neighbor shared three photos of liquid ant baits; each was filled with ant corpses.

New York City homes have cockroaches. Samantha Kennett, a graduate student who studies urban ant ecology at Kennesaw State University, said the ants probably arrived from Europe by ship.

Kennett’s research is focused on how this ant, which has now become one of the most populous ants in New York, has survived in urban habitats, causing it to be nicknamed the “ManhattAnt”. She said that they have even found the ants in Times Square. Kennett's explanation for why the ants had made their way to the upper levels of apartments is that the ants climb a lot.

It also seems that the ants do not climb in order to find food. Instead, they eat other insects and honeydew, which Kennett says is “a sugary secretion made by aphids and tree pests”. This is unusual considering urban ants tend to start consuming more human foods.

A professor at the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University, Dr. Rob Dunn, believes that the ManhattAnts that New Yorkers see are most likely looking for water. The ants nest in the ground and prefers to have some natural habitat, so the ants most likely will not stay where they are found.

Even so, liquid ant baits are used by many to get rid of the ants very quickly. However, Jerry Walsh of Mayday Hardware in Prospect Heights warned the effects of the liquid ant baits. The ant baits don’t cause the ants to die immediately, therefore allowing the ants to spread poison from the baits wherever they go.

However, there isn’t much reason to worry anymore, as the ManhattAnts are usually active around April through June.


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