Ants of the Big Thicket region of Texas were researched by JoVonn Hill of Mississippi State University and the data was formally presented in a paper to the Mississippi Entomological Association.  The project was organized through the Thicket of Diversity, a project of the Big Thicket Association, a non-profit group that works to preserve and promote conservation of biodiversity and resources of the Big Thicket.  The goal of the Thicket of Diversity is to inventory every living species and their distribution within the region. This is the basis for why a study of ants was undertaken.

Ants are one of the most dominant and influential forces in land ecosystems.  They may be found in a variety of habitats from prairie, to forest, to bottomland slough and are involved in a variety of ecosystem functions such as by contributing to nutrient and soil turnover. Numerous species of ants have specific habitat requirements and respond quickly to disturbances in their environment. This makes them an important group to study when comparing habitat diversity and monitoring environmental changes.  Also, many exotic species such as the imported fire ant and the tawny crazy ant cause negative ecologic and economic impacts to the areas they invade

Hill conducted his ant inventory from 2011 to 2014 at 22 sampling sites primarily in the Big Thicket National Preserve and at the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary.  They were sampled through visual searching on the ground, in leaf litter and in plant parts; by baiting with Great Value creamy peanut butter and Keebler Sandies pecan shortbread cookies; and through leaf litter sampling.

Based on literature records and the recent collections, a list of 65 species of ants in the Big Thicket region of Texas was presented. Three new state records for Texas were documented by Hill. Nine exotic species of ants with three species being pervasive were also identified.

This research project was funded from a Park Partnership matching fund grant between the Big Thicket Association and the National Park Service. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. government. Mention of trade name or commercial products do not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. government. For additional information contact, Mona Halvorsen, Director of the Thicket of Diversity at director@thicketofdiversity.org.