Argentine ants at Urban


Tikloh Bruno-Basaing

Illustration of an argentine ant by Tikloh Bruno-Basaing, Sports Editor.

Tikloh Bruno-Basaing, Sports Editor

Over the past few months, skinny black trails of ants have appeared around our school—in our trash cans, lockers, and dining spaces. These ants are a result of the wet and rainy weather this winter, which forces ants to come indoors to get away from the outside moisture in search of shelter and food. Combat, a pest solution website, explains how the ants are initially motivated to seek shelter indoors: “Most ant species live in shallow, underground nests. When the skies open up, and the rain comes pouring down, these nests flood in a matter of minutes.” Even the smallest amount of water will cause an entire colony to start invading our buildings. Once they have located food and are “On their way into your house, they leave a scent trail that allows them to return to the nest after the sun comes out and dries up all the rain,” noted Combat.

These ants are easily noticed when they are out and about indoors, so Urban’s facilities team has been on their A-game in their effors to combat these pests. David Coffman, Director of Facilities, described his team by saying, “We keep the school running. We ensure safety first, cleanliness, mechanics are running so people are comfortable, and just make sure it all keeps humming.” During his time at Urban, Coffman has had a lot of experience dealing with what he has identified as Argentine ants, a specific species native to South America. While some ant species crave protein-filled foods, others—including the Argentine—drive for sweet and sugary food, explained Coffman.

Coffman has found creative strategies to combat these ants when they appear. “To fight them we try not to use chemicals as much as possible. One of the things we learned is Windex is really effective,” he said. “The ammonia in the Windex actually gets rid of that trail so they can’t find their way back to the colony, and they don’t know what to do.”

Not only are the ants an eyesore as they crawl across the white walls and trash bags, but they are an inconvenience to school dwellers living their lives at Urban. Mookie Corpuz ‘19 explained a recent run-in she had with the ants: “I had bought some Samoa Girl Scout cookies from school, but I couldn’t eat them, because when I went to get them from my locker, they were filled with ants.”

This winter, new efforts were implemented to combat the ants, which can still be seen around school. The little red squares stuck against the walls are ant bait which is used to take out ant populations on a larger scale. Coffman explained that “What the ants will do is they will pick it up and bring it back to the colony like they usually do with food and the poison in it will spread amongst the other ants, and the idea is to kill off the colony.”

The facilities team can’t deal with the ant problem alone, and the ants certainly won’t go away on their own. To prevent the infestation of ants in our school, the students and school’s inhabitants need to take charge to stop attracting them indoors to make sure our school is for people and not pests. Coffman suggests, “If you want to help with the ant problem during the wintertime especially, keep your food locked in airtight containers or the refrigerator, don’t leave things out, and just try to be proactive; that would help us a lot.”