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An Unusually High Number of Ants are Being Found in NYC Apartments



By: Cedric Wu


Ants are an unusual houseguest to have in a NYC apartment. It is somewhat out of the ordinary to see anything other than the usual cockroach in a high rise, so it is strange that numerous New Yorkers are reporting ant infestations now.


Katie Guhl, a New Yorker who had just returned from a wedding, was stunned to see swarms of ants in her kitchen.


“There were no crumbs to be had,” she said.


She has never seen an ant in her apartment before.

These ants are different from other species however. The usual ant would prefer a nice soil-filled yard or park to nest in, but these ants are being found several stories above where they should be.


Ant scientists say that the ant may be a species from Europe that backpacked on a ship making the city its new home, like an alien from a distant planet.


Some people may assume that such an invasion is troublesome, but Samantha Kennett, a graduate student at Kennesaw State University in South Georgia in Dr. Clint Penick’s social insect’s lab thinks otherwise. She sees it as an exciting opportunity for research.


The ant, called Lasius emarginatus, is currently being studied by Kennet. The strange behaviors and adaptability of the ant has piqued Kennet’s interest.


“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,” she said.


Lasius emarginatus, also dubbed “ManhattAnt”, doesn’t survive on human foods. Instead it consumes other insects, along with honeydew, a sweet substance produced by aphids and other smaller tree insects making it even more different from the usual tiny pests we know.


The fairly new ant and its strange behaviors haven’t stirred up that much trouble though. It’s fairly harmless, and it isn’t exactly drawing that much attention other than a few reddit posts on r/Brooklyn.


Jesse Scavella of Evergreen Eco Pest Control isn’t fazed by the new species, instead focusing on the issue of a much bigger pest.


“The rodent population has increased drastically. I’ve seen a big influx in rats,” he said gravely.



Link to article: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/10/nyregion/in-nyc-apartments-the-ants-go-marching-up.html

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