Aggie Entomologists Show How Ant Colonies Adapt To Urbanization


A group of Texas A&M researchers has identified behavioral and physiological changes in ants disturbed by development and urban sprawl.

Research by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists in the Texas A&M Department of Entomology showed a common ant species undergoes physiological and behavioral changes in unnatural settings.

“Consistent signatures of urban adaptation in a native, urban invader ant Tapinoma sessile,” published in Molecular Ecology, included work by principal author Alexander Blumenfeld, a former graduate research assistant; Ed Vargo, senior investigator and Endowed Chair of Urban and Structural Entomology; Anjel Helms, a chemical ecologist and assistant professor; and Pierre-André Eyer, postdoctoral research associate, all in the Department of Entomology.

“Urbanization is a growing habitat around the world, and it’s becoming more important for organisms to develop ways to live when their natural settings are disturbed,” Vargo said. “Studies like this look at important questions regarding this change, ‘Can they adapt to urban environments and how?’”

The study focused on Tapinoma sessile, a relatively small ant species commonly known as the house ant or sugar ant. It is the most common house-invading ant across the U.S.

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