Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Ants Go Marching

Boats are rarely pest-free zones. There and just too many places to hide. And even if you do get rid of an infestation, you can count on a new crop of eggs sneaking aboard behind the labels on your tins, or in the bananas, or on cardboard anything. We do our best to keep Papillon neat, tidy and bug-free, but it is a case of constant vigilance.

You would think it would be easier on land. Everything is open and accessible in a house - there is nowhere to hide a nest that won't be easily discovered. And, sure enough, when we moved into our place last September we found it pretty bug-free. Our major concern was the malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the area, but the air conditioning keeps them outside where they belong. So while I still tried to keep the house crumb-free and an untempting target, it didn't seem as mission-critical as once it did.

And then we went away for six weeks at Christmas. When we got back, I discovered an army had invaded our territory.

The ants had arrived.

Up until this point, I had always considered ants to be fairly benign. Sure, we had carpenter ants in the house when I was a kid, but what did that mean to me? We got to leave the house early and have breakfast at McDonald's on the day that pest control came. We have seen a lot of leaf-cutter ants in our travels, and they are downright neat with their endless highways of little green clippings. Erik has a particular fondness for army ants and the bridges they build, but I am just as happy not to encounter those in the wild. I got stung by a red ant once upon a time, but that painful shot of formic acid only reminded me to stay out of that part of the backyard. The ants were doing their thing.

But now I had ants in the house. Just little, regular ol' ants. I was mystified as to why they had moved in when the house was empty - there was no food left behind, no crumbs to collect. And it was little comfort that my neighbours were affected, too. We all had ants, and no one could get rid of them.

I squish them. They come back. I spray them. They come back. We have gaps under the doors and around the windows; it isn't as though we could seal the house.

And I find them in the oddest places. They seem to have a masochistic affinity for hot appliances. Before I use the kettle, I have to wash it out because it is sure to be full of dead ants. Ditto the breadmaker and the coffee machine.

They also seem to like our toothpaste (well done, Colgate!). In the beginning, the girls would shriek a little when they found an ant on the side of the tube. Now, I barely get a bored, "Mo-om, there are aaaa-nts." The kids are still unwilling to squish them (saving up karma points, I guess), so that is my job. I rinse them out of the sink, flick them off the towels, grind them into counters, and pick them out of my coffee.

Someday the rain is going to stop, and the ants are going to go back outside where they belong. I'll be grateful. Until then, I'll be one out on the porch every evening, trying to convince the geckos that ants really are delicious.


Anonymous said...

Shades of Oak Knoll, you are so right.
Love Mom

Anonymous said...

know where you are coming from Amy. We have the same problem. One thing we found that does a fairly decent job of controlling them around the kitchen, is a sprinkle of cinnamon around the counters and in the cupboards. This came from a friend living in Tailand right now. It worked for us.

Ruth and Carl

Amy Schaefer said...

That's a good tip, Ruth and Carl. Sadly, cinnamon is a precious commodity around here; I had to bring ours up from Australia. For now, the squish-n-spray method is keeping us ahead of the game, and everyone is doing their best to rinse dirty dishes right away.

I do look forward to the day when I can drink a cup of coffee without fishing the drowned ants out first.

Anonymous said...

Drowned ants. Gah. The other day I told my husband that the coffee just hadn't tasted good to me in the last couple days. I blamed a different brand of toothepaste. Then I thought it was just my "taster." Then I sniffed the 1/2 and 1/2. (insert sick face)

Yeah. The 1/2 and 1/2 smelled like a dead animal. Can we all get sick together on the count of three?

Visiting from JR's blog, your life despite ant flavored coffee still seems divine!

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Atoll Amy,
Now Ant Amy. We had ants several places I lived. Once I found the trail climbed up the fa├žade to the fourth, then down to our third floor. I dusted them. Horrible creatures on toothpaste.