According to a recent report in PCT Magazine, ant activity is on the rise. “PCOs were reporting a marked rise in ant work, with ants replacing cockroaches as the most economically important pest in many parts of the country. Research commissioned by PCT also indicated the ant segment tied or surpassed termite work as the largest growth segment for much of the decade. Early on, the ant increase was blamed on warmer weather patterns throughout the U.S. as well as an increase in homeowner watering systems.”

This report indicated not only warmer weather patterns being the cause but also an increase in worldwide trading. More shipments arriving in our ports are introducing a variety of new ant species to the US. Dr. Roger Gold, professor and endowed chair in urban and structural entomology at Texas A&M University is quoted in this article saying “The boom in ant work has been characterized by a number of invasive and problematic ant species having been introduced from other parts of the world. It just seems like in the last few years with a lot of trade going on internationally that we have a lot more introductions than I remember in my whole career.”

Gold talked about several counties in Texas having experienced infestations of the Raspberry crazy ant. This ant is called “crazy” due to its random pattern as opposed to marching in regimented lines, and “raspberry” after a pioneering exterminator, Tom Rasberry, first identified them in 2002. The problem with these ants is they like to suck the moisture from plants, feed on precious insects such as ladybirds and eat the hatchlings of a small, endangered type of grouse known as the Attwater prairie chicken. They also bite humans – although not with a sting like fire ants. Their most remarkable characteristic, however, is that they are attracted to electrical equipment. Pest control specialists say that they are inundated with calls from homes and businesses now that the warm, humid season has begun, with literally billions of the ants wreaking havoc across the state. Worse, the ants refuse to die when sprayed with over-the-counter poison. Even killing the queen of  a colony doesn’t do any good, because each colony has multiple queens.

This summer, here in the Northeast, we risk an increase in ant activity not only due to the growth of International trade but also the weather. Our warmer weather coupled with the vast amount of rain we have had will likely drive ants from their underground homes into our homes. So be prepared.  It used to be that we primarily had to deal with pavement ants, pharaoh ants and carpenter ants in New York City. In recent months,  however, many PMPs have brought us uncommon ant species for identification. We’ve seen small honey ants, ghost ants, white footed ants and odorous house ants invade our area. If you’ve encountered odd ant species, kindly share your stories with us.

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