Cardiac ICU had flying ant infestation

Barb Sweet
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Health Sciences Centre

The cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s was recently infested with flying ants, The Telegram has learned.

Eastern Health confirmed the mid-July incident and a spokeswoman said the health authority brought in pest control to deal with the situation. The authority said it found the ants July 16.

Exterminators discovered the operating room doctors’ lounge and the CICU were overrun with a large number of the ants. A barrier was set up and the area was sprayed with insecticide.

According to the spokeswoman, the barrier was taken down the next day and there were no more signs of ants. Pest control was onsite two more times, but no ants turned up, according to Eastern Health.

The flying ants likely came into the hospital through drain pipes and by climbing onto the building, as there are gardens outside. Pest control services have also sprayed the exterior of the building several times to try to prevent future incidents, Eastern Health said.

Eastern Health said it apologizes for any inconvenience the incident may have caused and said there was no effect on patient care. It said while the CICU  is an open unit with beds separated by curtains, the whole unit was not subjected to spraying. Rather, the point of entry of the ants was  enclosed within the plastic barrier held up by metal frames to prevent fumes and dust from getting out of the area. The authority insisted patients weren't at risk.

Flying ants are carpenter ants that leave their winter nests once temperatures soar and they become irritated by their surroundings, said Ken Pretty, owner and operator of local extermination company Cabot Pest Control.

The ants fly out of their nests and are basically looking for a new place to nest. They then lose their wings.

Each year, he said the first three or four hot days have exterminators’ phones ringing off the hook and then it peters out. But after another few weeks, homeowners realize they have ants inside their homes and they call again, Pretty said.

“They have been around for thousands of years,” Pretty said. “They will be here for thousands of years after we are gone.”

They get in through damaged wood, drain pipes and through electrical connections, Pretty said.

They also like woodpiles and dirty rain gutters.

Organizations: Health Sciences Centre

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Recent comments

  • Bob Smith
    July 31, 2013 - 12:00

    I'd reckon that them flyin' ants wuz in to visit the uncles with the the bad hearts!

  • Horrah for ants
    July 31, 2013 - 11:22

    Great article, but Mr Pretty isn't entirely correct. One day a year, when the weather conditions are right, both non-winged males and winged Queen Ants will leave their next in what is called their "nuptial flight", also commonly called "Flant day", which is short for "flying ant". Upon leaving their colony, the queen ants scatter in all directions, leaving a trail of pheromones behind them. Then, it's up to the strongest and fastest male ants to seek out the queen, mate with her, and LITERALLY "bust a nut", almost instantly killing him. Once the queen ant has been fertilized, she discards her wings, and begins a new colony elsewhere. Ants!