Hypoponera ants are said to be the most commonly encountered and diverse genus of ants in the subfamily Ponerinae. More than 177 Hypoponera ant species have been documented worldwide, five of which inhabit the United States. Most Hypoponera ant species nest in shallow soil or on the ground surface beneath leaf litter, rocks, and within damp and decayed woods. These ants originate from tropical areas where they exhibit a high tolerance for dwelling in excessively moist soil, and the five species that can be found in the US inhabit the south where they are most prevalent in the southeastern Gulf Coast states. A couple of Hypoponera ant species in the US are abundant on urban and suburban turf grass landscapes, and three species in the US have become somewhat well known for inflicting painful and potentially dangerous stings to humans. These ants are not overtly aggressive, and most Hyponera ant stings are inflicted by winged queens after they become trapped in clothing. Hypoponera punctatissima, also known as “Roger’s ant,” is the most notable species of its kind due to its status as both a house pest and an occasional stinging pest in the US.
Roger’s ant is the only Hypoponera ant species in the US that is categorized as a “tramp ant,” which is a name given to the very few ant species that have successfully established habitats in urban ecosystems all around the globe. Tramp ant species include odorous house ants, Pharaoh ants, Argentine ants, and Tawny crazy ants. All tramp ant species are pests due to their acclimation to urban environments where they enhance their survivability by exploiting human activity and structures. In response to extreme weather conditions, the Roger’s ant readily establishes nests within inaccessible indoor areas, most notably within wall voids. These ants are unique for breeding on organic waste, particularly human and animal excrement, which explains why Roger’s ant is commonly found infesting compost piles and horse stables. Their habit of utilizing organic waste for the purpose of breeding and nesting is also why Roger’s ant has successfully established a worldwide distribution like other insect pests of organic waste, such as house flies and cockroaches.
The Roger’s ant filthy living conditions explains why these ants regularly carry disease-causing microorganisms, such as Streptococcus lactis and the mold species Cunninghamella elegans. Unfortunately, winged reproductives (alates) of this species have been known to swarm into homes where they often inflict painful, and sometimes, medically serious stings. Roger’s ant alates have been responsible for several mass envenomation incidents that have occurred in various public settings in the southeast including schoolyards and sporting events. These ants have only recently started to infest Louisiana homes, and they have a rich history of infesting hospitals where they pose a serious medical threat to patients.
Have you ever found dead winged ants in your home?
Tags: Ant Control, Ant Exterminator