Beijing battles ant colonization

By Liu Meng Source:Global Times Published: 2012-7-4 0:45:03

The capital launched a citywide campaign to eliminate the ants in residential compounds on Sunday. Photo: IC

The capital launched a citywide campaign to eliminate the ants in residential compounds on Sunday. Photo: IC


Ants have become Beijing's fifth pest after a citywide anti-ant campaign swung into action Sunday.

Joining the annual anti-four pests campaign against the capital's rats, cockroaches, flies and mosquitoes, families who registered for help in cleaning up household ant infestations from May 15 to June 15 have already started receiving pest control help.

On the first day of the month-long campaign Sunday, more than 10,000 families received the free anti-ant service, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Yu Chuanjiang, a staff member at the Beijing Patriotic Health Campaign Committee Office, responsible for the campaign, said that the office started to monitor the city's ant situation two years ago, but this is the first citywide battle against ants.

"More residents complained of ant infestations. An investigation in January last year showed that 41 percent of residents found ants in their houses over the year, a density large enough for a citywide elimination campaign," he told the Global Times.

A total of 550 employees from pest control companies, who were trained by the office, will go to residents' houses along with residential community officers to personally demonstrate the correct way to eliminate ants.

They will also provide residents with free insecticide and anti-ant information.

Gel bait will be laid to lure the ants from their nests, and when they carry the "food" back, it will poison all the ants, said Yu.

"Ants are social insects," he said, "they won't eat the food if they find it, but will carry it home to share."

Ants infiltrate residents' homes through windows or cracks in the wall, or may be carried inside along with a food bag or box, according to Yu.

A staff member, surnamed Dong, from Chaoyang District Patriotic Health Campaign Committee Office, told the Global Times that they have received applications from about 30,000 district households for ant elimination.

"Professional exterminators will help fight these ants until September. The anti-ant service is available from 5 to 9 pm in week days and all day at weekends," she said, adding that residents who want this service can register at any time.

Kang Fangfang, a resident in Dingfuzhuang, Chaoyang district, told the Global Times that she found many tiny yellow ants on her kitchen table when she forgot to put a watermelon back in the fridge.

"Maybe they smelled the sweet watermelon. But they really gave me goose bumps," said Kang, who is planning to register for the service.

Zhang Yong, deputy director with the disinfection and harm control office of Beijing Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, told Beijing-based Health News that tiny yellow ants could potentially be hiding in any building, including hospitals.

"Tiny yellow ants form the majority of Beijing's indoor ants," said Zhang.

"They could carry viruses which will cause the spread of diseases like typhoid, dysentery and hepatitis," he claimed.

Li Zhengqing, a doctor at Beijing Xizhihe TCM Hospital said that the only possibility of ants causing disease is if they have come from a disease-affected area.

"But the chances are not high," said Li, "the main problem with ants is inconveniencing people's lives." 

Yang Jing, an insect expert at Beijing-based environmental NGO Green Beagle, said that considering the strong ability for insects such as ants and black beetles to adapt to the environment, destroying them will not influence the food chain.

"What's important is to care about the dose and toxicity of the pesticide for fear that the leftovers could harm people's health," he said.

Beijing launches an annual "four pests" elimination campaign every year, to reduce the possibility of disease, for example, mosquito or rat-borne ailments.

"Residents' desire to fight the ants shows that people's requirements for their living environment have improved," said Yu.

"It's the perfect time to fight Beijing's ants because July to September is the insects' peak activity period," Yu remarked.



Posted in: Society, Metro Beijing

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