Ants are among the most commonly encountered insect groups in both outdoor and indoor environments. Considering their small size and crafty nature, ants often invade even the most sanitary of homes during the warmer months in search of food sources. Of the more than 1,000 ant species that have been documented within the US, only a small percentage are considered pests within homes and lawns. The most common ant pest species in upstate New York include carpenter ants, odorous house ants, pavement ants, crazy ants and many more.
Most ant infestations are nothing more than a nuisance when they occur within upstate New York homes. However, the crazy ant infests homes in such large numbers that controlling the pests can be a challenge, and carpenter ants can be economically damaging due to their habit of tunneling through structural wood for nesting purposes. Potentially dangerous ants are not abundant in the northeast, with the exception of the European fire ant, but this species, unlike its well known southern relative, is not considered a pest of significant medical concern. Unfortunately, a relatively obscure, but highly venomous ant species has recently been introduced into New York State. This species is commonly known as the Asian needle ant, and this species’ sting has already resulted in four cases of anaphylactic shock in the eastern US.
While this species has not been thoroughly studied by researchers, the stings inflicted by this pest are well known to cause extreme pain, redness, swelling, hives and severe allergic reactions that can be fatal in sensitive individuals. In fact, evidence suggests that this species may be more dangerous to humans than the much-feared red-imported fire ant species, as one study found that 2.1 percent of the population has an allergy to this species’ venom, while a plethora of research has found that only 1 percent of the population has an allergy to red-imported fire ant venom. It has also been conclusively shown that the Asian needle ant’s venom is more likely to cause severe allergic reactions than the common European honey bee’s venom. This relatively small ant species’ exterior is dark brown to black and its legs and mandibles are light brown to orange in color. If a specimen should be encountered indoors where it is known to establish nests, a pest control professional should be contacted immediately.
Were you aware that a dangerous non-native ant species had become established within New York State?