For the past decade, the diminutive Lasius emarginatus — which has a reddish-brown thorax and a dark brown head and abdomen — has been absolute thrive in New York and is nicknamed ManhattanAnt.
“My research is focused on understanding how this ant, which is now one of the most prevalent ants in New York City, was able to be so successful and survive in high-urban habitats,” said Ms. Kennett. She found Lasius emarginatus in trees all over Broadway and Midtown. “We found her in Times Square,” Kennett said. “They are everywhere.”
Including apparently the upper floors of apartment buildings. Like many ambitious New Yorkers, the ManhattanAnt is upward mobile. “He forages in trees,” Ms. Kennett said. “There’s a lot going up. They found it in two-story buildings in Europe.” Now that it’s expanding its habitat, it appears to be scaling the structures of New York City.
Upon examining photographs, Ms. Kennett was able to confirm that Mrs. Russell Paige’s ants and this reporter’s ants were in fact Lasius emarginatus. Ms. Guhl had no photos, could not be sure of the species she was visiting, and has since disposed of the bodies. “I didn’t exactly look at them closely,” said Ms. Guhl.
How high Lasius emarginatus will climb is unknown. Ms. Kennett started an online initiative, Project ManhattanAnt, and she hopes New Yorkers will report their sightings to help scientists track the hard-working insect as it silently spreads: “We’ve started tracking populations in New Jersey and to watch as much as possible on Long Island.”
dr Rob Dunn, a professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University whose team is credited with discovering Lasius emarginatus, who lived in New York, believes any ManhattanAnts New Yorkers seen in it are likely looking for water looking for – and probably not staying there either. This ant “nests in the ground,” he said. “It nests under logs and in all the studies we’ve done it prefers a natural habitat.”