Common house ants prosper in urban settings

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Washington, March 31 (ANI): A new research has shown that the most common house ant species, built for living in some of the smallest spaces in a forest, prosper in urban areas.

The study revealed that odorous house ant colonies become larger and more complex as they move from forest to city and act somewhat like an invasive species.

The ants live about 50 to a colony with one queen in forest settings but explode into supercolonies with more than 6 million workers and 50,000 queens in urban areas.

"This is a native species that's doing this. Native ants are not supposed to become invasive. We don't know of any other native ants that are outcompeting other species of native ants like these," Grzegorz Buczkowski, a Purdue University research assistant professor of entomology, said.

Odorous house ants live in hollow acorn shells in the forest. They're called odorous because they have a coconut- or rum-like smell when crushed. They're considered one of the most common house ants.

In semi-natural areas that are a cross of forest and urban areas, such as a park, Buczkowski said he observed colonies of about 500 workers with a single queen.

He said it's possible that as the ants get closer to urban areas they have easier access to food, shelter and other resources.

"In the forest, they have to compete for food and nesting sites. In the cities, they don't have that competition. People give them a place to nest, a place to eat," Buczkowski said.

The study has been published in the early online version of the journal Biological Invasions. (ANI)

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