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Country ants make it big in the city

Urban life lets odorous house ants build empires with hundreds of queens

4:47pm, March 5, 2010

It’s a tale of bright lights, big colonies: Rural ants go wild in the city.

The first systematic lifestyle survey of odorous house ants confirms how much a modest country dweller can change habits in the big city, according to urban entomologist Grzegorz Buczkowski of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

In the forests of Tippecanoe County, Ind., he found odorous house ants, Tapinoma sessile, in colonies with just one queen each. With no more than a hundred ants, each colony could live in a single acorn.  

Ants from city parks and other seminatural areas formed somewhat bigger colonies, he says. But in West Lafayette and other urban zones nearby, Buc

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