Ants of Tucson Parks Project logo

Welcome to the Ants of Tucson Parks Project. We appreciate your interest in this University of Arizona Entomology project.

The Ants of Tucson Parks Project is a scientific research effort to understand the factors that affect the diversity and abundance of ants inside cities. It is located in and around the Tucson area, which is a city immersed in the Sonoran Desert biome.


Ants are a very diverse group of insects that includes over 12,000 identified species worldwide. In Arizona, the number of species is close to 300. Ants are numerous in almost every land environment including cities. The goals of our project include identifying the ant species present in parks, desert remnants and natural environments. This knowledge will allow us to understand how the characteristics of the environment affect which ant species are able to live in different habitats.

Desert remnant study siteNeighborhood park study site

Contrasting sites included in our research. From left to right: desert remnant, neighborhood park, and natural desert.

Parks are especially important for our project since their ant communities have never been the main focus of a study in the US. In Tucson, neighborhood parks are very different from the desert that they have replaced. We attempt to learn how the local ant species can adapt to this new environment. We also hope to discover ways in which parks can serve as refuges for the conservation of vulnerable ant species.

Insect traps

Our insect traps consist of a plastic jar that is buried so that the lip is flush with the ground. They contain an insect killing agent that is environmentally-friendly and non-toxic to people and pets. We have designed the traps to prevent the accidental ingestion of the killing agent by pets or children. To this purpose we have placed a resistant plastic cover over each trap (see image below).

Example of ant trap

Study site locations

Map of study sites around Tucson

Parks included in our study:

Natural desert sites:

Acknowledgements: We thank Tucson City Parks and Pima County Parks and Recreation for giving us the opportunity to do research in the parks.

Contact Information: Javier Miguelena,