Jack Longino is an international ant expert and has traveled the world documenting and discovering ant species. But for his latest discovery, he doesn't need to go any farther than his own yard. In August 2018, just after dark, Longino found a Long ants in his garden that was actually out of place. The next day he dug deep and found more specimens. They remind him of species he knows from the tropics or from the deciduous forests of the eastern U.S.
But the surprises didn't stop there. Longino thought ants were introduced to the area, probably by commercial pottery, and would be some well-known species from elsewhere. But a closer look at the lab revealed that it was a unique new species, almost certainly indigenous to the region, with similarities to related species in Arizona. Longino admitted that the ant, which likes warm, moist habitats, lives underground in typical Utah climate. Over 150 years of irrigation and forest clearing, however, can give the ant the courage to reach the surface again. For that reason, he named the new ant Strumigenys ananeotes (Stroom-i-jen-knee ana-knee-oat-tees). The species name of ananeotes means "new ones."
New and important discoveries may be waiting near home, Longino wrote with colleague Douglas Booher in a paper published in the Western North American Naturalist, reporting on discovery. "We hope," they wrote, "that this discovery will encourage naturalists to provide headlamps and hand lenses and head back to the hot summer nights."
Reference: "Expect the unexpected: a new level from a Utah yard" by John T. Longino and Douglas B. Booher, Western North American Naturalist Vol. : No. 4, Article 3.