Which Species Of Ant Pest Is Most Abundant In Pennsylvania? Is This Species Dangerous To Humans?
Nearly 13,000 ant species have been documented worldwide, but experts believe that an additional 10,000 species have yet to be documented. Around 100 ant species have been documented in Pennsylvania, but very few of these species are categorized as “pests.” The most commonly encountered ant pest species in Pennsylvania homes include black carpenter ants, odorous house ants, large citronella ants, and most abundant of all, pavement ants. Pavement ants are non-native insects that were likely brought to America during the 1700s on Colonial ships that docked somewhere in New England. To this day, American pavement ant populations remain most abundant in the northeast and mid-atlantic regions, but this soil-dwelling species has expanded its distribution to nearly all eastern states and into the midwest.
Pavement ants, as their common name suggests, are often found crawling on pavement surfaces, particularly on sidewalks and driveways, but they often invade homes in search of sweet-tasting human food sources. These ant pests proliferate most rapidly within human modified environments, and their preference for habitats that do not contain large amounts of vegetation make them abundant in yards where they often establish highly populated nests near the foundations of homes. This is why seasonal swarms of winged reproductive pavement ants sometimes swarm into homes and around outside lights during the early summer season. These swarms can become an overwhelming nuisance due to this species’ large subterranean nests and highly populated colonies, which usually contain at least 10,000 workers.
Pavement ants are largely nuisance ant pests within and around homes, but they may also cause minimal economic damage due to their mound-building activities on residential lawns. While pavement ants produce venom, their stingers are too fine and flimsy to penetrate human skin, making it likely that their stingers are intended strictly for last resort defensive purposes and to emit trail-following pheromones. These ants are relatively small and brown to black in color, and they are widely considered to be the most recognizable ants in the eastern and much of the midwestern US.
Have you ever found ants on your food?
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