On Flying Ants and Other Pests
May 7, 2012
One muggy workday last summer, Weekly editor Mary Duan felt so icked out in her office that she packed up and moved to the downstairs conference room.
The culprit: what she calls "flying ants."
"They tend to come out when it's warm," she says. "I will notice one or two of them, and all of a sudden there's a dozen or more. They'll be crawling on the computer screen, on the keyboard, on my hands, on the wall. It's just creepy."
Levi Jimenez, our LEED guru next door at BuildingWise, suspects they're actually termites. Though either way, the question is how to get rid of them.
That's all wrapped up in the LEED requirement for what's called "integrated pest management": using the least toxic options for dealing with pests like weeds, bugs and rats.
The Weekly couldn't even start its LEED performance period until all of the building's baited rat traps were gone. Jimenez says. Managers have told the landscapers to deal with weeds without chemicals, and BuildingWise staff have dealt with the ants in their office kitchen through old-fashioned cleaning.
But as green as the Weekly's operations have been all these years, other toxic pest agents have snuck in, like the Fipronil injected into termite holes after Casner exterminaters zapped problem areas with their termite-frying electro-gun; and the malathion a co-worker sprayed on some flowers just in front of my desk. (I kinda ice grilled him over that.)
When gentler methods don't work, though, LEED IPM lets building owners use certain pesticides in a pinch. Most insecticides are allowed, Jimenez says, as long as a notice is posted.
The flying ants/swarming termites in Mary's office have been spared so far, even if her nerves haven't.