Are ants infesting your house in the winter?

Ant Party by tarotastic

A friend told me that her house has an infestation of ants. They are in her house now, in the winter.

One generally thinks spring is when ants come indoors. But that isn’t necessarily the case. You might have brought the ants indoors with firewood and the heat has made them become active.

It has been a mild winter for those who live in the Middle Atlantic states. Mild weather can make ants become active earlier than usual. If they have a nest somewhere in the structure of your house they might be coming out. And some ants like damp spots to build their nests. With all the dampness we have had this winter, there could be some rotting wood near or in your house.

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Pest Problems Related to Indoor Plants

Mealy bugs by mpshadow2003

TheGardenLady received this question from Ben about pests problems with indoor planting.

I know you have answered a few questions on dormitory planting before, and I have settled on starting with an Aspidistra and branching out once I’m comfortable with what seems to be a relatively easygoing plant. I’m simply looking to spruce up my room aside from the obvious posters and lights, so a plant and a small fish tank are on my to-do list this summer.

However, no one seems to address any kinds of pest problems related to indoor planting. Are there any major bug issues I should watch out for when dealing with dorm room plants? I have a room to myself as a Resident Advisor next year, so a south-facing window sill will be available year-round in Midwest temperate weather.

I like to keep the window open during the day so stagnant air should not be a problem, but I worry that circulation will increase the risk of infection either to or from the plant(s).

If I have missed anything or made some kind of gross assumption, your input would be much appreciated. Thanks!

You want to be prepared. Though you are correct to be concerned about raising plants indoors, most people have plants indoors and get away without serious problems. Raising plants indoors would not be such a popular hobby if there were that much to worry about.

Since all living organisms can have problems, I hope you are aware that fish can have health problems in their tank.  I remember how sad we were when our fish developed a disease known by its abbreviated name, ich.  We knew something was wrong in our first aquarium when we saw all those white spots on the fish. But raising fish is still popular and fun. You just have to be vigilant to see that everything in the tank is healthy.

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The Good Ant

Ant, Head-On 2 by The Bald Eagle1 (on flickr)
Ant, Head-On 2 by The Bald Eagle1 (on flickr)

TheGardenLady received an excellent comment from someone named the GartenGrl.  On this post about Terro Liquid Ant Baits she pointed out the following:

Just remember your peonies need ants to bloom…so don’t put it near your peony bushes or you won’t get any flowers this year!

Ants do have value in the greater scheme of things. And as you point
out, peonies have a need of ants for the plant to flower.  As this quote suggests, ants are extremely important for our environment.

In many ways ants are our friends and allies, and we need them. In China, ants have been used for thousands of years to help control pests in orchards, making them the first insects known to be used for biological control. Ants actually help control pests that we haven’t always been very successful controlling on our own. Both indoors and out, they eat the eggs and larvae of fleas, flies, spiders, bed bugs, and probably silverfish and clothes moths. They also go after cockroaches and other bugs. In addition, ants patrol the perimeters of our houses and keep termites, their mortal enemies, from establishing colonies in our homes. If we let them do their job, that is. Ants are also scavengers that clean out lots of debris. The earth would be a
dirtier place if we didn’t have ants.

TheGardenLady should have suggested using ant traps only where a person doesn’t want them in the house. She appreciates GartenGrl’s comment.

Keep reading the blog and keep comments like this coming.