SALT CITY – It was a warm August evening in 2018, when Jack Longino discovered something out of the ordinary in his backyard.
"That's where I noticed those four tiny ants that I did not know belong here," said Longino
A professor of biology at the University of Utah and an entomologist, Longino is trained to discover new species , He said that only when he looked at these ants did he know that they were the first of their kind in the state.
"The head has a very triangular appearance, where it has a very oblong front and the jaws are then somehow further extended," he said.
Longino collected nearly 70 of the ants, took them back to the lab, studied them and gave them a name.
"I named this new kind of Strumigenys ananeotes," Longino said. "Ananos, which means" newly emerged. "
The ants are relatives of a species found in humid climates, but Longino owes the trees planted in the valley to have helped these species survive the desert climate in Utah.
Instead of being harmed by human intervention, the species actually benefits from creating a larger living space, "he said.
His work has just been done in the Western North American Naturalist published, which made it official.
He hopes his story will inspire others to come out there and explore.
"Get a flashlight and look closely and you might find some of them too," he said.