Parrish couple not crazy about crazy ants

Herald Tribune
Parrish couple not crazy about crazy ants
By Christopher O’Donnell

Published: Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.

PARRISH – Home for Ryan Kraus is a one-acre plot on a quiet back street in Parrish.

Unfortunately for him and his wife Jillian, it’s a home he shares with millions and millions of Caribbean crazy ants, a relentless, moving trail of nuisance.

Local pest companies say the ant is spreading.

Kraus has sprayed pesticides and surrounded his house with shell, but nothing has driven off the ants, a non-native species that breeds so prodigiously its colonies are largely impervious to pesticides.

Killing the ants is easy. Every few days, Kraus scoops up a bucket of dead ants that have perished around the perimeter of his house.

But even pest control companies say eradicating the species is almost impossible. The colonies have several nests with multiple queens. The ants travel long distances, meaning nests are often not sprayed.

“I’ve spent a lot of money on products that really have not worked,” Kraus said. “They’ve pretty much overtaken my entire property.”

Severe infestations have been recorded around Lake Okeechobee and in West Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Miami. In more recent years they have spread to Sarasota and Parrish.

“Three years ago I had a couple of infected homes; now I have 15.” said Paul Hobson, the owner of a local pest control company. “They produce faster than you can kill them. They die, but other ants run right over the top of the dead ones.”

Hobson has already sprayed three times at Kraus’ home. The first time kept the ants at bay for three weeks. By the last application, the ants were back within a day.

On Wednesday, he gave Kraus a free treatment of about 80 gallons of a new pesticide mix that he hopes may keep the ants at bay for up to 60 days.

The mix is designed to kill most ants on contact but allow some to carry the poison back to the nests.

Detecting the presence of the tiny ants early is key to preventing colonies from establishing, said Ron Harrison, an entomologist and technical director for Orkin.

Harrison said homeowners should look under rocks and at the base of palm trees.

“When you get these massive numbers of Caribbean crazy ants, it’s not fun,” Harrison said. “They’re major nuisances when they invade electrical units.”

Mercifully for the Krauses, the ants do not bite and those that infiltrate the home through doors and windows quickly perish in the cool temperatures inside their home.

For now, Kraus is resigned to paying for regular pesticide treatments and hoping for cooler weather.
“Nobody seems to have a solution,” he said.

Article from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. View the original article here.

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