Jersey residents have been seeing ants in their homes and apartments — and it's only February.

A Rutgers University expert says it can be pinned on the mild weather.

"We are having record-high temperatures. It has warmed up and ants and a number of other insects, when it warms up like this, they get fooled thinking that it is springtime and it is time to get active," said George Hamilton, chairman of the Department of Entomology at Rutgers. "A lot of insects and things like ticks, if it gets above 50 degrees, they are able to actually get active."

That, in concert with recent heavy rains, is giving colonies a false, spring-like marching signal.

"We have had a lot of soaking rain, they live in the ground. It is possible that the water could have forced them out of their nests. But quite honestly, I think that it is more the temperature."

Hamilton says there are a number of ant bait and gel products that the homeowner can purchase.

"They can put them out in the areas where they are seeing the ants. When I have problem in my own house, I have a gel bait that I put along the trail that they are following to wherever they are going, and they will feed on that and they will take it back to their nest, and it will kill the individuals in the nest."

"The one thing that they probably do not want to do is go around spraying any insecticides around the perimeter of the foundation because it may do a little bit of good."

He adds, "By the time that you get to springtime, they are going to be inactive. And if you have another ant problem, you are just going to have to do it again. So you are kind of wasting money."

Does this mean that when the real spring shows up the ants will be worse? Hamilton says, "Probably not." The active ants outside the nest will get killed off if we have more cold weather.

"Last year we had a period of very warm weather in winter, and our mosquito people tell us that they had mosquitoes that were becoming adults and were active. And then it got cold again and they all died."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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