An invasion of tropical ants is proving to be the scourge of hotels and guesthouses across Yorkshire at their busiest time of the year.
Pest experts say a new generation of the insects is invading Britain with species from all over the world, some of which were unknown in this country until relatively recently.
Multiple-occupancy buildings such as hotels, guest houses or even blocks of flats create perfect living conditions for the insects, and they have a tendency to head to areas where food is being prepared.
Because swarms of the ants are so difficult to contain, it’s feared the problem is only likely to get worse.
Pharoah and argentine ants have been in the UK for decades, but others including ghost, crazy and big-headed ants are now emerging and could pose a risk to public health.
Some will bite or sting and they can carry a wide range of disease organisms such as streptococcus, which causes infections. They can also contract salmonella, which makes them particularly dangerous if they contaminate food.
Pest control companies have reported a significant increase in the number of infestations in Britain in the last few years.
Pest control expert David Cross said: “Species like these were once contained to their own parts of the world, but they now seem to be on something of a world tour.
“The population of tropical ants is this country is certainly growing all the time and we’re now seeing many more problems with colonies of certain species than we have witnessed in the past.
“Most arrive here via container ships from different parts of the world either in food or perhaps soft furnishings.
“Others are brought in by people who travel abroad and come back with a queen in their luggage and once they’re established, they become ever more prevalent.”
Homeowners are being urged to employ a member of BASIS PROMPT – a professional register providing independent proof of pest control credentials.
Rob Simpson, managing director of the scheme, said: “Our members are all fully-trained experts who are obliged to stay up to date with the latest products, techniques and legislation.
“They’ll give the best advice as well as provide safe, effective and legal treatment to remove tropical ants and every other pest infestation.”