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Archive for Monday, July 7, 2008

Wet weather brings invasion of ants, termites

July 7, 2008

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— Mild weather allowed marginal ant and termite colonies to survive the winter, and persistent rainfall into the summer is helping them survive and invade homes in bigger numbers than in the past, experts say.

In Topeka, reports of ant infestations are up 10 percent to 15 percent, while termite infestations are up almost 50 percent from previous years, local exterminators said.

"It would be my assumption that because we had a wet winter that wasn't too cold and we've had a long, wet spring, most insects are able to reproduce and live better," said Zachary Falin, collection manager with the Kansas University Division of Entomology.

"The conditions could allow marginal colonies to squeak by in the winter and then boom around now," he said. "Usually around this time, it's too hot to see this much activity."

Pete Lake, branch manager for Terminex in Topeka, said ants are expanding in homes to more locations than the typical kitchen and bathroom.

"The ants are flourishing, and they're also seeking food and shelter in people's homes," Lake said.

Jeff Bodine, co-owner of Bodine's Pest Control, said he's not as concerned about the ants as he is termites.

"The tiny little ants are what we've been seeing more of, and they're really just a nuisance," Bodine said. "The termites are a bigger concern for me."

People should wash ant trails with warm, soapy water, experts said, seal any cracks around doors and windows and keep food put away.

Keeping clutter away from the house is important in keeping termites out.

"Even branches that touch the house can lead to a termite problem," Bodine said.

Bugs will continue to be a problem as long as the weather remains wet and temperatures stay moderate, Falin said.

"They've had a run of good luck and as soon as it gets dry and hot, things will slow down for the insects and they'll start dying off," he said.

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