Over the past decade, the tiny Lasius emarginatus – which has a reddish-brown thorax and dark brown head and abdomen – has been absolutely prosperous in New York, and was nicknamed ManhattAnt.
“My research aims to understand how this ant, which is now one of the most common ants in New York City, managed to survive in very urban habitats,” Kennett said. She found Lasius emarginatus in trees all along Broadway, as well as downtown. “We found them in Times Square,” Kennett said. “They are everywhere.”
Including, apparently, the upper floors of apartment buildings. Like many ambitious New Yorkers, the ManhattAnt is upwardly mobile. “It forages in the trees,” Ms Kennett said. “It climbs a lot. They found it in second story buildings in Europe. Now, as it expands its range, it appears to scale structures in New York.
By examining the photographs, Mrs. Kennett was able to confirm that Mrs. Russell Paige’s ants and this reporter’s ants were indeed Lasius emarginatus. Ms Guhl had no photos, could not be sure what species had visited her and has since disposed of the bodies. “I wasn’t really looking at them very carefully,” Ms. Guhl said.
The height to which Lasius emarginatus will rise is unknown. Ms Kennett has launched an online initiative, Project ManhattAnt, and she hopes New Yorkers will report their sightings to help scientists track the industrious insect as it silently spreads: “We have started to see populations appear in New Jersey and as far away as Long Island.”
Dr. Rob Dunn, a professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University, whose team is credited with discovering that Lasius emarginatus lived in New York, believes that all ManhattAnts that New – Yorkers see inside are probably looking for water – and probably aren’t. here to stay. This ant “nests in the ground”, he said. “It nests under logs and in all the studies we’ve done it prefers to have a natural habitat.”