Before the commercial pest control industry began servicing homeowners throughout the US during the mid part of the last century, Americans were completely defenseless against indoor insect pests. During the first half of the 20th century, both impoverished and affluent urban residents fell victim to ineradicable insect pest infestations within their home. The proliferation of private pest control firms, and the introduction of a synthetic insecticide known as DDT in 1945 put an end to chronic infestations of bed bugs, cockroaches and other pests within residential and commercial structures. However, this pest-free utopia proved to be short lived, as German cockroach populations evolved a physiological resistance to insecticides within two decades of DDT’s introduction, and seemingly unkillable bed bugs resurfaced throughout the US by the early 2000s. However, the pest control industry’s adoption of integrated pest management tactics paved the way for more effective cockroach and bed bug control programs. Because of this, ants have replaced cockroaches as the most commonly controlled insect pests within homes and buildings throughout the country.

Of the more than 1,000 ant species documented as inhabiting the US, only around 50 are known to be indoor pests. According to a study that reviewed numerous pest control reports and past surveys of pest control professionals, the four most commonly controlled ant pest species on residential properties in Massachusetts are black carpenter ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus), pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum), larger yellow ants (Acanthomyops interjectus), and little black ants (Monomorium minimum). The most commonly controlled ant pest species within Boston’s high-rise buildings are largely the same species found within homes, but with one exception–Hypoponera punctatissima, or “Roger’s ant.” Roger’s ant is an invasive species in the US that is not commonly found in northeastern homes, but winged alates of this species frequently swarm within the top floors of high-rise buildings in Boston where they land on people’s skin before inflicting a painful sting. It was later found that exotic plants infested with Roger’s ant colonies were imported into Boston and placed within buildings, resulting in infestations and swarming events.

Have you ever found yourself in the thick of an indoor ant swarm?