Work in Sports
House of buggin'
Comerica recovering from insect swarm
DETROIT (AP) -- They swirled and swarmed their way through Comerica Park, flitting into the ears, mouths and hair of hapless Detroit Tigers fans with no ant-idote in sight.
Untold thousands of flying ants descended on the downtown Detroit ballpark during the first inning of Wednesday night's game between the Tigers and Seattle Mariners.
"It was bad. They were in your ears, in your eyes, everywhere," said peanut vendor Charles Edwards, 60. "Bad isn't the word. It was terrible. I've never seen anything like that before."
By the time the bugs departed in the third inning, many of the 32,356 spectators had fled their seats -- and a couple of Detroit coaches and pitchers had started a preventive fire in the bullpen.
"When you looked up, it was a swarm across the sky," said Ron LaCroix of Detroit. "The birds were eating so good, they were falling on the sidewalk. They couldn't even fly away, they were eating so much. I've never seen anything like that."
Play was not interrupted, and Detroit went on to a 6-5 victory.
There was no sign of the insects at 1:05 p.m. Thursday, when the Tigers and Mariners began playing the final game in their three-game series.
"My guess is, they'll probably occur about the same time they did last night," Michigan State University entomologist Howard Russell said of the swarming, winged ants. "If it doesn't go into extra innings, they'll probably be OK."
Wednesday night's aerial assault was not OK with Noel Selewski, a season ticket holder from Grosse Pointe.
"The bugs came in like the plague," he said. "I couldn't sit in my seat. Basically, we came to the ballpark and wasted an evening. ... It was horrible. I couldn't sit there anymore. I was full of bugs."
Russell said the winged ants breed in colonies on the ground and could swarm in the Detroit area for anywhere from four to 10 more days. The insects might be annoying but are harmless, he said.
The Tigers made no special preparations for Thursday's game, spokesman Jim Anderson said.
"Last night ... was just kind of an act of God," he said. "We're not taking it that seriously. We think it's an isolated incident. We're just entering today's game like any other."
Despite extensive news coverage of the swarms, the Tigers were expecting a near-sellout Thursday at Comerica Park. The club is playing its first season at the 40,000-seat downtown stadium.
Some fans driven from their seats Thursday night demanded refunds. They won't get them, Anderson said.
"The umpires decided to play through it," he said. "We're treating it like a rain delay. Fans may get up from their seats and leave, but this is no different from that situation."
Area homeowners plagued by the winged ants away from Comerica Park won't have much success battling the bugs with insecticides, Russell said. The chemicals can kill ants outside their nests, but won't wipe out an entire colony, he said.
"We want revenge, and the fact that we can kill a bunch of 'em -- we feel we have to be in control of the situation," he said.