Santa Barbara- S County

Ants Marching Relentlessly in Search of Water During Drought

Kitchens, bathrooms, pet dishes are all targets

Ant Infestation

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The ants are marching this summer, in search of water with the drought parched dirt they normally live in coming up dry after three years of barely any rain.

Several local pest control companies say their phones are ringing constantly with calls from customers who are not just bugged by the problem, but want to know why the ants have seemingly exploded out of the walls, windows and door jams in the last two months.

"90 percent of our calls right now, are ant calls," said Hydrex Pest Control General  Manager David Watkins.

It's clearly linked to the climate.

"With the lack of rain,  lack of vegetation on the outside, homeowners cutting back on their watering, the ants are forced indoors. They are looking for food and water," said Watkins.

He says the ones most common here are Argentine ants, and they are thriving in coastal communities.

UC Riverside is studying the ant expansion, and maps show the population strongly spreading from the bay area to the Mexican border.

Some store bought sprays may stop the ants you see on the counter top, but rarely reach the colony that launches the parade of crawling intruders.  Other products in a gel form sometimes get carried by the "scout" ants back to the main mass of ants in the nearby dirt or in the walls.

They could also be coming from next door.

"So if your neighbor has ants they could be interacting with ants in your yard.  They are not territorial so they work in conjunction with each other. What we say is the ants are a super colony. It's throughout the state and the coastal area they love they love the climate," said Watkins.

The outrage is on Facebook postings daily.

"They are living in the water reserve in my iron. very weird," posted George.

"Can't leave out food for my dog while I'm not home, and found one on my toothbrush," wrote Janet.

"What we are going to is find out where the colony is nesting and  we are going to get a product to that colony, to the queen, and to destroy the colony," Watkins said.

As for home solutions?

"Carry around a bottle of Windex. Don't leave out dirty dishes," wrote Mary on Facebook.

David said, "we put a healthy line of ground cinnamon along the baseboard."

Others use chalk and liquid soap.

Besides  ants, there's also been an outbreak of black widow spiders that's also creeping people out.

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