Family share home with 7.5 million ants
A MOTHER and her nine-year-old daughter are being forced to share their home with an estimated seven-and-a-half million ants.
They say their lives have been made a misery by the massive infestation which has plagued their flat for three years.
Louise Armstrong, 27, attacked the council for failing to rid her and daughter Samantha of the insects. Their Cobbinshaw House South home, in the Calders, has been invaded by pharaoh ants and is also infested with hide beetles.
Efforts to remove them by the council have proved useless, and it is now estimated there could be as many as 25 colonies of the insects in the flat, containing approximately 300,000 ants each.
Ms Armstrong said one environmental officer who examined the flat recommended that they be moved to a new house. However, the council has only offered to temporarily relocate them while it attempts to tackle the problem again.
According to Ms Armstrong, she first noticed the ants nine months after moving in.
"I had been making some toast, and I had placed a loaf on to the work surface to take a couple of slices out. When I went to put it away, I found that it was riddled with hundreds of ants," she said.
Ms Armstrong once discovered thousands of ants marching between her toilet cistern and a bar of soap, which they had bored into. On another occasion she discovered them eating the body of a beetle she had killed earlier that day.
In one horrific incident, she found that her daughter’s hamster had died during the night and that the insects had eaten away its eyes and ears.
Now the family keep their clothes in black bags in a bid to avoid contamination with ants.
Mrs Armstrong said: "I contacted the council and they came in and put gel traps down, which is meant to be the best way to kill them. But the ants aren’t stupid - they ignored them completely. In fact, I was told that the council had been trying to tackle the problem before we moved in, but that it had come back. I would just like somebody from the council to come and see what we are dealing with here.
"I haven’t cooked here for three years. I don’t keep any food here, because that’s what they’re meant to thrive on. Any time that I go over to my mother’s house, I have to get changed in her shed first, because the ants can travel in the hems and linings of clothes."
Ms Armstrong added that the infestation had deeply upset her daughter, who attends nearby Westburn Primary.
"She was incredibly upset when she found one of them in her bed, and she always wants to go to her grandmother’s because there’s no food in the house."
Council staff have told Ms Armstrong they cannot fumigate the flat because the chemicals which would kill the ants would aggravate the hide beetles.
"If I do decant, I will have to leave everything here, as the ants could have burrowed into my sofa and carpets," she said.
"I’ve told the council that it would be impossible to live in an unfurnished flat."
A council spokeswoman said: "It was heavily infested and there could be up to 25 colonies within this property."
She said there were likely to be around 300,000 ants per colony, making a total of up to 7.5 million ants in the flat.
She added: "On the recommendation of pest control officials, we are looking to temporarily re-house the tenants to another property until the complex problem with the pharaoh ants is eradicated.
"This could take some time, but once the process of baiting is complete there is no reason why Ms Armstrong cannot move back into her tenancy.
"In the meantime, Ms Armstrong is welcome to apply for permanent re-housing through our Key To Choice system."
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