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Menke talks ant emergence

Associate Professor of Biology Sean Menke was interviewed by WBBM Newsradio about urban ant communities.

Pavement Ants Emerge In The Midst Of Spring

By Steve Miller

As the trees bloom and the leaves grow back on branches, don’t get distracted by what’s at eye level. Look down at the sidewalks, where ants are gearing up for a turf war.

Look between the slabs on a sidewalk – pavement ants are emerging. WBBM’s Steve Miller reports.

“The advantage of being on sidewalks or city streets is that people drop food all the time,” said Sean Menke, associate professor of biology at Lake Forest College.

He studies urban ant communities.

“Later in the summer you’ll start to see what look like huge milling clusters of these ants on various cracks. And it’s usually two different nests – one on each slab – that are competing. Kind of arguing for a nesting space.”

And whoever has the bigger population wins the territory.

“Kind of last one standing.”

Menke said for every single ant you see on the sidewalk, there are probably tens – or even hundreds – underground.

Listen to the full radio interview here.

–WBBM Newsradio, CBS Chicago, April 25, 2017