The Ant Plague of 2016

Every summer since moving into our house eight years ago, we’ve been plagued by ants. At the first sign of truly awful summer heat the little buggers begin marching 40 by 40 into the kitchen to seek out every last food scrap or sugary remains. We’re talking thousands of them without end. They’ll come in the window and then they’ll come in the front door and through the backdoor. I’m surprised they haven’t carried the cat away. It’s become our annual man vs wild battle.

We had two years’ respite while we were in Toronto. In fact it was so nice that one of the reasons to stay in Toronto was because of the absence of ants in our apartment. But here we are, back in Perth, and sure enough, right on schedule, the ant invasion began.

I don’t know about you but I don’t like killing a lot of things en masse. Ants, in my opinion, are generally good for the environment. After all, they’re carrying away scraps that I’ve been too lazy to clean up in my own kitchen. They’re also industrious, unceasing, resourceful.

That’s why I abstained from doing much about them despite the cursing and the disbelief that they should appear at all when, honestly, really, I’d cleaned everything. What did they want from us? We even had a friend staying in our house while we were away and he couldn’t believe how bad they were.

An exasperated cry for help on Facebook brought out any number of remedies. Antrid? Tried that years ago and it didn’t work. Talcum powder? Seriously? A few others, and then my cousin, the ever-practical one, said he knew a good pest guy. Thanks but I wasn’t ready for Agent Orange.

I resisted a little longer and then tried vinegar because that’s what the staff member at the hardware store suggested. It made absolutely no difference. Then a friend again recommended talcum powder. Desperate, I gave it a shot.

This delivered a moment of respite. It interrupted the ants’ paths but it didn’t last. Talcum powder in the way? No problem. Let’s go through the bathroom on the second floor. WHAT THE LIVING HELL? Why were they so determined to get inside? Would I have to daub the front door with lamb’s blood to keep them away?

The Final Solution?

A friend on Twitter (@NatalieHatch) suggested Borax. Well, what did I have to lose? My sanity was already gone and by now I’d washed away and wiped up so many of their black little bodies that I was a committed ant-killer (and it still caused me guilt).

I bought Borax, a natural cleaning powder, and mixed it with honey and sugar. I smeared it on window sills, down walls and on the ground where they marched. Within seconds, hundreds, if not thousands, of ants converged on the sweet offerings. I began to panic.

What if it didn’t work? What if all I’d done was give them more of an incentive to stick around? What if they came in search of more, sweeter treats? I had visions of the ant mafia coming to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Instead of sticking around to fret over this ant convention, we went out for a few hours. Would the house be filled with them when we returned? Would they have changed the locks?

And so it was with stunned surprise that we returned to see the ants gone. A few bodies lay stuck in the goo but otherwise the house had been abandoned. We were alone. Had the Borax mix been the final solution? We went to bed and I wondered at the collapse of the ant colony. Had I assassinated the queen?

The next morning the ants remained gone and when I returned home in the afternoon, the peace had held. Meanwhile, the ant nests outside seemed to continue operating. Perhaps they’d learned their lessons and decided the losses were too great to re-enter the house.

After more than 24 hours, only a few ants have dared to return. I’ve been told it can take two to three days for the ants to stop coming so we shall see then whether this man vs ant battle has been decided. They could be preparing for the final assault.

What is your tale of man vs wild?

2017-07-27T13:20:59+00:00 January 25th, 2016|

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