Ant-Watching

Last week I acquired a hobby I never wanted, and certainly don’t enjoy: Ant-watching.

It wasn’t my idea. Hubby made me do it.

Ants creep me out, so you can imagine how (not) thrilled I was last year when a platoon of ants infiltrated the second floor of our house. Soon the upstairs was dotted with little corpses where I’d squished them and left the bodies as a warning to others. (It turns out ants are cannibalistic, though; so really I was just leaving welcoming snacks. Yet another reason why ants creep me out.)

Hubby took an entirely different attitude at the time. “Just leave them alone,” he urged. “Watch them and see where they go. That way we can find the nest and get rid of them once and for all.”

There was some logic to that, but it went against every one of my instincts. I argued that we could simply study the distribution of corpses after I squished them, and it would amount to a scatter-graph showing the areas of higher population density.

In the end, I set out some cotton balls soaked in boric acid/honey/water. The ants gorged on the treat and carried it eagerly back to the missus and kids, poisoning the whole nest before succumbing themselves. We haven’t had ants in the house for over a year.

But.

A few days ago, there was another damn ant!

I squished it, of course. When I told Hubby, his response was predictable: “Don’t squish them, watch them!” He even encouraged me to name the next ant, naively hoping that if the invader had a name, I’d become fond enough of him to spare his life. Clearly, Hubby doesn’t realize what a heartless bitch I am.

But I decided to humour him (Hubby, not the ant), at least for a while. So for an hour I watched ‘Antonio’ make brainless circles around the floor. Eventually he found the place where I’d squished his compatriot a couple of days ago. He circled the spot again and again, antennae waving wildly. I had a small pang, wondering if he was grieving for his friend; but then I remembered the whole ‘cannibal’ thing. He was probably just licking up some tasty juices.

Antonio apparently needed a nap after his cannibalistic snack, so he snoozed under the table for forty minutes. I’d had enough, so I called Hubby upstairs to take over. Oddly, he didn’t seem quite so enthusiastic about the chore when he was the one listening to his brain rot while he watched a motionless ant.

Moments after Hubby abandoned ant-watching duty, Antonio got smeared across the floor. Since then I’ve set out my honey saloon and had a few patrons, so I’m hoping this year our ant-ordeal will be shorter. Meanwhile, I’m stopping up every tiny aperture and grimly eyeing a suspicious spot on the east side of the house. As soon as the weather warms up, it’s off with the siding!

But at least ant-watching is off my to-do list. One thing down; three hundred and seventy-six to go…

Book 16 update: I’m on Chapter 38, and Aydan has just discovered that she’s rich beyond her wildest dreams. Unfortunately, she has no idea where the money came from…

30 thoughts on “Ant-Watching

  1. I was sure I had commented on this post – but it disappeared.
    We have had more than one plague of the pesky little beasts. Finding them on our toothbrushes one morning was the start of a long and protracted war. They have disappeared (for the moment) but I doubt very much that they have been defeated.
    In addition if they fang me I come up in spectacular welts. Welts which are MUCH bigger than the blighter wot bit me. And last for weeks.

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    • Ouch! If you knew they were in your house (and on your toothbrush, blech), that would make for some anxious nights wondering whether you’d wake up covered in welts.

      I’m sorry your comment got eaten. Sometimes I wonder whether WordPress suffers from glitches every now and then. I checked my spam folder and your comment wasn’t there, so at least there’s that… 🙂

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    • Yes, the honey seems to be a big treat for the ants, and fortunately the boric acid is non-toxic to birds and bees and other beneficial critters. Last year we didn’t realize the ants were moving in, so we didn’t react right away. When I finally did put out the bait, we sneaked upstairs in the dark of evening and we could actually hear that our bait station was in use: The quiet rustling of lots and lots and LOTS of little ant feet hurrying to the feast. BRRRRR!!! *shudders*
      Needless to say, this year I didn’t wait around.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We used to get tiny black ants in the winter. Tanya buys little bait boxes and that seemed to take care of them. But prior to their disappearance, one morning I got up to find a string of ants climbing the wall onto the kitchen table and into the sugar bowl. The line of ants reminded me of the photo of the men climbing up the mountain carrying their goods to the Yukon gold fields in 1898 or 99. Some things intrigue me.

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    • That’s the thing that I can’t figure out about these ants: They don’t seem to have any purpose or destination. It made sense when Hubby thought they would be going out looking for food and then returning to the nest. But they never seem to go anywhere or do anything; they just wander randomly. Maybe they’re just advance scouts. If so, I hope they’ve been convinced that this isn’t a hospitable home.

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  3. Ants are an ongoing problem in our house. We actually get some relief during the winter months (again winter here is when the temp dips below tropical to cool or “chilly”), but that just lasts through January….and now they are back!! Our Maine Coon cats love to play with them…..we do the same kind of thing you do by setting out a “you’re whole family is now doomed” solution once we figure where they are coming from. That at least keeps it manageable, but the area around here has a lot of sand on granite which appears to be “nirvana” for our friend the ant!!

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    • Oh, so that’s what it is! Our entire yard is on what amounts to a gravel pit – we’ve got about 27 feet of gravel under our house. No wonder the ants love it here. Now, if only they’d STAY in the gravel.

      I just had a big “AWWWWW” when you mentioned Maine Coons. They’re my favourite kitties!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the chemical warfare aspect, but you need to somehow plant a nano-transmitter that they carry back to their nest (perhaps some kind of drone could follow their trails) so you can follow up with a major bombing strike – perhaps with thermobaric weapons to ensure that you get all the little ants in the area.

    Just a thought …

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  5. I don’t think about ants so much when they’re outside but once they’re in my house they have crossed the line and suddenly I’m with you: kill them all!! I’d (almost) rather take a flamethrower to my house than to let a single one of them live. Overkill? Definitely. But it flips that switch in my head and psychotic I go. I should mention that the entire time I was reading your post, and then again when typing my own, “Ant Music” is stuck in my head in this big loop, lmao!!

    So many possibilities with that tidbit you shared about Ayden!! Can’t wait!!

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    • I’d never heard “Ant Music” — just checked it on YouTube. Hmmm… that part about cutting off the head and having the legs come after you was DISTINCTLY disturbing. Especially after my recent ant-squishing spree.

      I leave ants alone when they’re outside, too — as long as they’re minding their own business, they’re fine with me. But in my house? NOPE!!!

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  6. Interesting recipe you shared. I just buy a carton of Amdro, scatter it around the suspected insect abode, and ignore it for a couple of weeks. When the alert pops up on my phone, I sprinkle out another dose, and that bed is done for the year. Multiple beds? Multiple doses, one per each. When the alert pops, dose them all again. Problem solved. The second dose at two weeks kills the next hatch before they can lay eggs for a third. Tried and true. Nothing to it.

    Sudden riches? No clue whence it came? That’s happened to me several times. Came to a halt years ago when I stopped drinking. Food for thought. 😁😁

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  7. I’ve done similar here–there is some ant bait sold at the stores that is essentially sugar water and Borax. I could make it myself but for a few bucks, it’s already mixed and in nice little disposable containers. (Some get stuck in it. Last thing I want to do is clean out my own containers of ant carcasses.) There is even a version with enclosures made to stake outside in the flower beds.

    But I have to say that once I spot a single ant (often in late Spring), and put out traps in the usual spots, I won’t see another ant until the following year. I have seen long trails of them outdoors, and (prior to using ant bait) have seen at one place on the foundation that they had made a trail and were actively using. I placed one alongside the air conditioner compressor for that reason, and the others in the house are in the usual spots I will see them originating from. Thing is, outdoors, I can find their trails up the side of the foundation but can’t find an exact entry point–the house has wood and vinyl siding, and they’ll get up under that if they’ve found a crack.

    Ants don’t bother me much. (Other than the ickiness of knowing they’ll get into the food supplies.) But house centipedes, with the long legs that run at about a zillion kilometers per hour? It’ll have me screaming like a little girl… 🤣

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    • Quick FYI–the baits I use are the Terro Liquid Ant Baits. I don’t know if they are available in Canada or not, but they do work well here. We’ve had about five or six years of being ant-free (except for those one or two unfortunate scouts we’ll see early on).

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    • LOL! I’m not crazy about centipedes, either; but they’re not quite as common as ants around here. No screaming necessary… yet.

      I’m still trying to narrow down where the ants are getting in, but I think there’s probably some access point around the same area as our leaky upstairs door (hence my plan to take off the siding and figure out what’s going on behind it). I just wish I could kidnap the contractor who did such a shitty job in the first place. I’d chain the bastard to the deck railing until he fixed his screwups once and for all. And it’d probably take a few months to be really sure everything was fixed. Just sayin’. 😉

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      • I usually see my quota of house centipedes one day out of the year. I’ve heard they come up through drains in the basement. That is…not a comforting thought! (The basement bathroom has a floor drain as well as a shower stall. I try not to think about it!)

        The Terro baits are a little expensive for what they are, but the ingredients are somewhat similar to what you’re already using–you’re using an attractive bait to get them to carry a deadly chemical back to the colony. I could buy a box of Borax cleaner (20 Mule Team is a brand name for it here) and make up thick sugar water with household sugar, laced with the Borax, to get the same results–Terro makes it clear that their ingredients are Borax and sugar water, and I’ve heard of the same home remedy elsewhere. They work well on our small black ants here but with my luck, you’ll try it and it won’t work at all! They do warn you may see more ants initially, but that’s because they follow their pheromone trail to the food supply, then take it back to the colony with the deadly Borax (which is technically sodium tetraborate). It’s way safer than spraying Raid around the house, or using Triazinone around the perimeter of the house outdoors.

        At my house across town, I used to get large black ants around the kitchen sink. I found they were attracted to water, so if there was any standing water around the sink, that is why they would get in. Never saw them elsewhere in the house, and had plenty of red ants outside that only found their way indoors once (that was when the cat hocked up a hairball one night, and we found it the next morning).

        P.S. I see you’ve found their theme song: “Don’t tread on an ant, you’ll end up black and blue. You cut off his head, legs come looking for you!” (Funny I had that in my head after reading your post this afternoon!)

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