Editor’s note: We would like to introduce you to our newest blogpost series- Natural Selections of Van Cortlandt Park. This series will focus on the creatures that call Van Cortlandt Park home. With well over half of its 1,146 acres being comprised of natural habitats- forests, wetlands, a lake and meadows- many plants and animals live in or rely on Van Cortlandt Park. Each post in Natural Selections will highlight and introduce you to one or a family of those creatures. During this first post, Alex Byrne will introduce you all to some of the Carpenter Ants in our beloved park.
Meet the Carpenter Ant
by Alex Byrne
Odds are if you are walking down the sidewalk next to Van Cortlandt Park, or along a forest trail in the Park and see a caravan of large black ants, you have just been acquainted with one of the most functionally important groups of insects within the park; carpenter ants. Carpenter ants within the genus Camponotus consist of 1,489 species world wide, with the most Camponotus rich continents being South America and Australia (Bolton 2012). In New York City and across the world, carpenter ants form large colonies inside dying and dead standing trees, hollowed out branches, soil and even human dwellings and utilities where they can induce millions of dollars of damage in some situations (Ellison et al 2012). In urban forest ecosystems such as Van Cortlandt Park, carpenter ants are key players in the production and turnover of soil. Read more »