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The Important Difference Between Tramp Ants And Invasive Ants, And Why Each Are Becoming More Common As Pests Of Homes In Arizona

All ant species are native to one particular ecoregion, but many ant species have established habitats outside of their native range. For example, the well known red-imported fire ant is native to central South America, but they have become well established in North America, Australia, China and New Zealand. A significant proportion of ant species that are known pests of homes in the United States originate from foreign regions, such as pavement ants and ghost ants. Foreign ant species that have a negative impact on the environments where they have become established are known as “invasive ants,” and most non-native ant species in the US are invasive including big headed ants, Argentine ants, Tawny crazy ants, Asian needle ants, red-imported fire ants, and black imported fire ants.

Some ant species have managed to establish thriving populations in virtually every inhabited region of the world. These worldwide species are appropriately known as “tramp ants,” and they include Pharaoh ants, longhorn crazy ants, little fire ants, ghost ants, odorous house ants, big headed ants, white-footed ants and Argentine ants. With the exception of little fire ants, all of these tramp ant species are among the top ten most commonly managed ant pests within US homes. Of the nearly 15,000 ant species that have been documented worldwide, only 40 to 50 are pests, and many of these ant pests are tramp species.

In the United States, pavement ants, odorous house ants, and multiple carpenter ant species are the most common ant pests of homes. While all of these ant pests are abundant in Arizona, they are not the most commonly managed ant pest species within homes; instead, Solenopsis xyloni and Forelius pruinosus are the two most common ant pest species of homes in the state. The former species is commonly known as the southern fire ant, while the latter species has not yet been given a common name. Increased urbanization has led to an increase in ant pest species, especially invasive ants. For example, the invasive dark rover ant species has become one of the most frequently encountered ant pests within Arizona homes. Harvester ants, such as Maricopa and red fire ants used to dwell within uninhabited areas of the Sonoran Desert, but as a result of urban expansion into desert areas, these two species have become very common pests within residential yards in Arizona.

Have you ever sustained stings from harvester ants?

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