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Rain causes increase in ant infestations

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 | 7:29 p.m. CDT; updated 9:10 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Columbia residents are facing a surge in ant infestations because of heavy rainfall and hot weather.

Ants are normally seen more in the spring and summer, but according to Steven Sides Jr., a technician for D&L Pest Control, this year their numbers are worse than usual.

Getting rid of ants

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Sides said ants would rather be outside, but the combination of rain and heat drives them into homes.

“As soon as that rain hits, you’re going to see them,” he said.

Andy Welker, who rents a house in the East Campus neighborhood, is one of many Columbia residents dealing with the influx of ants.

“I just noticed when I was typing on my computer, ants were crawling all over my keyboard and all over my desk,” Welker said.

James Carrel, MU curators’ distinguished teaching professor of biology, explained that when the soil is wet, ants will move to higher ground and often find their way into homes.

He said he sees the same pattern in his Tucker Hall lab each year. Ants enter the lab through cracks in walls and windows during the rainy season and then move back underground during the hot, dry summer. He said he had the same problem in his old house.

According to Sides, ants enter homes through small cracks and crevices and travel alongside pipelines.

He said the best way to deal with ants is to take preventive measures, such as caulking cracks around windows and doors. While it is possible for homeowners to “do the Home Depot thing,” Sides said, it will not be as effective and won’t last as long as professional work. He suggests having pest control done before April.

But as ant infestations are on the rise, it may be too late for home remedies to have an effect on bug problems.

Peter Riney, regional manager for Critter Control of Central Missouri, said that the unusual amount of rainfall this season could disrupt the ants’ nesting cycle and cause them to change their habits.

Sides said that once ants start nesting in the walls of homes, professional help is needed.

He said while home remedies, such as using soap suds as a poison, will help a little, but they won’t disrupt a serious infestation.

“When they come, they come in large numbers,” Sides said.

In the meantime, Welker said that he hasn’t taken definitive steps to address the ant problem in his home, but he plans to mention it to his landlord.


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