Someone once joked to Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge that his office at Baltimore City Hall probably was bugged. Yesterday, in a creepy-crawly sort of way, he discovered it was true.
Mr. Ambridge arrived at work to find his office teeming with termites. Swarms of the destructive insects covered his desk and chair. A black cloud had settled on the walls.
"I went in to get something, and I feel creepy all over," said Mr. Ambridge, a Democrat who represents East Baltimore's 2nd District.
A janitor quickly sprayed insecticide and sealed off Mr. Ambridge's office to prevent the termites from invading other council offices on the fifth floor of City Hall. But the great swarm that descended on Mr. Ambridge's workplace provoked anxiety among his colleagues.
"I'm getting ready to get out of my office," said 4th District Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, who has an office next to Mr. Ambridge. "I don't see any [termites], but maybe they just haven't surfaced yet."
Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. of the 1st District said, "There must have been 6,000 of them. I hope it's termites, and not fleas. I feel itchy just thinking about it."
City Hall custodians, who called in an extermination company to fumigate Mr. Ambridge's office, told him that "explorer" termites crawled in because the roof of the 120-year-old building is under repair.
The insects made their way to Mr. Ambridge's office, even though it is far from the roof work.
It's not the first time that the councilman has wondered if his office is haunted. Two years ago, he had just stepped out of his office when the ceiling collapsed. Plaster chunks destroyed much of his paperwork and belongings.
The cave-in came a year after a leak from a clogged rainspout damaged some of his documents.
Mr. Ambridge said he has a theory about the odd occurrences.
"Maybe if it were silent like some other offices around here, these things wouldn't happen," he quipped.