Bug Blog

Why Has A Non-Native Rover Ant Species Become A Nuisance Pest Within Arizona’s Homes And Buildings

An ant family consisting of species that are known for being small in body size have been known to exist in many different parts of the world for decades. These ants are commonly known as rover ants, and there are at least 38 documented rover ant species worldwide, ten of which have been confirmed as inhabiting the United States. During the early 2000s, a non-native rover ant species known as the dark rover ant somehow established an expansive population within the southern United States. This species hails from South America and has become a significant nuisance insect pest in Arizona where they often swarm into homes in large numbers. Pest control researchers in Arizona have struggled to control this pest for several years without much success.

Generally, non-native insects fail to establish an invasive habitat within Arizona due to the state’s dry and hot climate. For example, while the Formosan subterranean termite has established a permanent invasive habitat in the southern US states, particularly along the Gulf Coast, they are unable to survive Arizona’s harsh climate despite their colonies being found next door in California. This is good news for Arizona residents. However, the dark rover ant is an exception in this regard, as this species has found a way to survive Arizona’s unforgiving climate. Dark rover ant swarms establish new colonies within well irrigated properties in Arizona, allowing them access to water sources in order to survive and proliferate.

Rover ants are no larger than a few millimeters in length, making them one of the smallest insect pest species in the state. Despite their small size, the dark rover ant has been a source of annoyance for homeowners who often find the insects swarming into their homes. Once indoors, rover ants forage along walls, ceilings, floors and countertops in massive groups. Although these insects are largely considered nuisance pests, they are considered a public health threat when they infest hospitals. Rover ants are often found on irrigated lawns within the University of Arizona campus where researchers collect specimens in order to develop techniques to control the pests. Rover ants are not yet well controlled within the state, but this may soon change as the University of Arizona is considered the foremost source of cutting edge research into rover ant control methods.

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of any type of insect swarm?