A Blenheim woman who found 50 ant nests in her home is desperate to end the infestation that is ruining her family’s life.
Amanda McMahon said the infestation of little black beasties began six months ago and ran into every room in the house she shared with her husband and four children, all under 10-years-old.
McMahon could not turn on the light in her bedroom because ants had gathered in electrical sockets and that could cause a short circuit, she said.
When she went to bed at night she had to use the torch on her i-Phone.
“When you turn the light on it flickers like crazy. I can hear a sizzling and burning sound.”
An electrician opened a socket and recovered a clump of dead ants inside, concluding the light was a fire hazard.
It was insane that turning on a light could potentially start a fire, McMahon said.
Ant trails covered the walls, batts and light sockets, her toilet and pantry.
Fifty nests contained four different types of ants.
“In the last year the numbers have exploded, it’s insane.
“Sometimes after a meal you want to be lazy and leave your dish on the kitchen bench. We have to be so meticulous and make sure every crumb is put away.”
All food was kept in sealed containers.
One day she was enjoying a bowl of cereal and found ants floating in the milk.
“The other night my 10-year-old daughter was reading in bed and she rushed into my bedroom because she found ants between the pages.”
Her 6-year-old son was becoming frustrated.
“He thinks ants are only in dirty houses. He asks ‘mummy, are we dirty people?'”
A tree outside their house was rotten from the inside because of an ant infestation.
“We could have pushed it over it was practically hollow.
“We have spent a lot of money on different baits but nothing seems to work.”
She even tried an old wives’ tale of borax mixed with golden syrup but it did not work.
A $100 super strong ant bait was their last resort before they called the exterminator.
“It has become a massive part of our lives in the last couple of months. Everyday we talk about them and worry about them. Sometimes I worry if they are in our food and we are eating them.”
McAs Pest and Weed Control and Carpet Cleaning owner Andy McAslan said ant infestation call outs were up 20 per cent in Marlborough.
“Ant numbers are climbing dramatically.”
He blamed Marlborough’s temperate climate.
“You think you see all ants but you only see 2 per cent of them.”
One customer threw out $300 worth of food following an infestation.
Another had baked three Christmas cakes and found ants eating them.
Ants fed on citrus, McAslan said. They liked to be “pampered” in a dry house with enough moisture to digest their food, he said.
“When ants walk they drag their hairs along the ground extracting a pheromone. All the ants line their noses to the ground like Beagles and follow the scent. They move from food to house and house to food.”
Budding ants with separate colonies were the biggest problem.
Colonies could be as big as the size of your fist.
The Darwin ant when squashed emitted a pungent smell.
“You can walk into a house full of Darwins and smell them. It’s not particularly pleasant.”
The most problematic ant was the Argentine, which was invasive and aggressive.
Flybusters Anti-ants exterminator Roger Abernethy said ant infestations were building in Marlborough each year.
Ants were attracted to magnetic fields in appliances.
“It’s a cosy place to be and a little bit warmer because of the heat from the wires.
“They will arc out power sockets and can short circuit the supply to plugs. The next thing there is potential for a little fire starting.”
Ant extermination call outs was half of their workload, he said. They were getting so busy they were considering employing an additional exterminator.
“In the old days ants used to come in for food then go back outside. Now they are happy to live in houses.”