Petition to fix Poplar’s Balsam House red ant infestation

3:35 PM September 12, 2022

More than 63,000 people have signed a petition to eradicate a red ant infestation from a Poplar block of flats. 

A resident, who said she did not want to be named, said there has been a problem with ants in Balsam House since she moved into the block 17 months ago, with the insects in her bedding, furniture and food, and over all the surfaces.

“I can’t cope. My family have got my kids most of the time because I can’t have them around here,” she said.

The mother-of-two reported the infestation multiple times, she claims, and pest control has been sent twice.

She set up the petition four weeks ago in order to demand a permanent solution.

A mother of three, who has been experiencing the red ant problem since 2016, said she had to throw away a week’s worth of food because it was infested with red ants

– Credit: Supplied

Another resident of the block, a mother of three, said she has been dealing with the problem since 2016.

Her infant daughter’s cot was infested, she said: “When I turned the light on, I screamed. There were at least 50, 60 just there.”

red ants in a pile in corner

Residents said the red ants spread throughout most rooms in their apartments

– Credit: Supplied

red ants on a window ledge

One resident reported the red ant problem got worse in the summer

– Credit: Supplied

A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson said Balsam House is a privately-owned block with multiple landlords responsible for properties within it.

Due to this, “to completely rid the block”, the spokesperson said it needs to be treated in its entirety by the building owner.

The spokesperson said: “Treatment will depend on whether the species is garden or pharoah ant. The latter are difficult to eradicate.

“To completely rid the block we advise that it needs to be treated in its entirety, including a number of follow-up treatments. Our pest control service has collected a sample from the resident, which has now been sent off for a positive identification.

“We sympathise with residents and strongly encourage the building owner to continue to take action to rid the block of ants.”

The local authority is responsible for five units, which are used as temporary accommodation for homeless people and managed through Letting International Limited.

Letting International said it had only received one complaint recently, and ensures regular cleaning is scheduled alongside periodic pest control. 

Its spokesperson said: “Anything historical has been dealt with in the appropriate manner and treated as soon as it has been brought to our attention.”

The petition organiser was moved into Balsam House by Newham Council, a spokesperson for which said it was aware of the issue, which had been treated by pest control. 

It is working with the tenant to rectify any further issues, they said.

View the petition at

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