March 24, 1993
Finding carpenter ants indoors in the winter is an indication that they are nesting somewhere within the walls or floors of the structure. Ants found in the summer are often invaders wandering in from outdoors, but since carpenter ants, like all insects, are cold blooded, ants active in the winter must be originating from a warmed source. Even if the air temperature is very cold, heat from the sun or the furnace may warm house walls and stir dormant ants to activity.
Spring is hopefully just around the corner. A time when dormant buds break, grass begins to grow, and seeds germinate. These seeds have been lying in the soil since last fall, waiting for an appropriate cue such as moisture and a warm soil temperature, to trigger germination. Isn't it amazing that a seed, which can be as large as a 20 pound coconut or as small as false pimpernel which requires 150 million seeds to weigh 1 pound, holds the key for whether or not the species survives the following year. Of course, not all plants rely totally on seed production in order to multiply.
The first sample of termite swarmers I received this year was collected in Burlington IA on March 15. With the snow and cold, windy weather we've had through mid-March, this "sign of spring" is a welcome sight (in a twisted sort of way).
This article originally appeared in the March 24, 1993 issue, p. 26.