The heat and scouring of the blast combined with deposition of volcanic ash was lethal to insects both in the blast zone and ashfall areas. Volcanic ash affects insects in much the same way as the powder based insect sprays used by homeowners to kill them. The sharp ash particles wear away at the thick cuticle that protects insects from desiccation. Mortality from lack of moisture is probably the greatest single limiter to insect survival. Ash particles also kill insects by clogging the small body pores through which they breathe. There was a noticeable lack of insects in the blast zone during the first few years after the eruption. The exception was ant colonies that survived in logs or below ground and resumed their activities soon after the eruption.