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Ants Go Marching… Into NYC Apartments

By: Sarah Liu

Finding ants in New York City apartments used to be like finding mosquitoes in Antarctica. But now, for people who live in these high-rise buildings, ants swarms are common, even when you leave no crumbs.

Scientists have discovered that an ant species from Europe made its way into New York City by ship in 2011, the Lasius Emarginatus. Throughout the years, the ants have been given the nickname ManhattAnt because of their ability to thrive while becoming the most common ant in the city.

The reason for these ants is not crumbs like ants on the mainland who will alter their diet. Dr. Rob Dunn, a professor whose team discovered the Lasius emarginatus in New York “believes any ManhattAnts New Yorkers see inside are probably looking for water — and are likely not there to stay”.

On the r/Brooklyn forum on Reddit, a witness says, “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.” They “just showed up one day,” says a resident who has never seen an ant for the 8 years they lived in that Brooklyn apartment.

Samantha Kennett, a graduate student at State University in South Georgia studies the ManhattAnt. She has seen them on Broadway, Midtown, and Times Square, on trees, and on upper floors of apartment buildings. “They are everywhere” she says. Based on the photographs Brooklyn residents gave her, the ants were confirmed to be the Lasius emarginatus.

In 16 years, these ants went from not existing in New York City to being known for inhabiting the land, even making their way to New Jersey. These new findings bring interest and excitement to researchers, but for the apartment residents in New York City, not so much.

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