Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Ants go Marching

When the rain came recently, 
certain small visitors began trooping into our kitchen this week.
I speak of tiny black ants, the bane of all householders.

ants on flower photo courtesy of

I don't like to use insecticide around the house,
so I put up with the occasional stray bug that stumbles in.
They are escorted out or, if I'm in a foul mood, 
I dispatch them to their maker.
But in a matter of minutes, one little ant can quickly invite a riotous mob 
demanding free food or shelter.
I know this from experience.

We once lived in a beautiful four-plex condominium in Little Rock,
but the entire complex had been built on a massive ant colony.
Walking outdoors required vigilance over each step,
but we were never bothered by the little guys indoors.

Then one day, as I was cleaning the  guest bath, 
I accidentally bumped the toilet tank cover 
and thousands of ants swarmed out. 
I had never seen ants inside before that moment, 
and believe me, it was a shock to realize
those infinitesimal critters had been sneaking up the pipes into the guest bath
while we slept unawares in the next room.
I took the tank cover outside and within minutes 
the unwelcome guests had vacated it.
I never had trouble again. Apparently once disturbed
these particular ants felt indignant enough not to return.
That, or it could have been the vinegar I sprayed all over the bathroom.
Ants can't tolerate the acidity.

Regardless of my vinegar trick, 
ants are hard to kick out of one's house permanently.
Normally, an ant zipping along a window sill
or trekking across a counter top doesn't cause me much alarm.
It's when they congregate in large numbers that I object.

This happened when we lived in Missouri for a time.
I had baked a beautiful cake, covered it in frosting,
and showered it in coconut. 
I covered it and left it on the counter overnight.
I awoke in the middle of the night and went to the kitchen for water.
I turned on the lights and interrupted an orgy of cake eating.
Sugar-drunk ants bobbed and weaved 
all over the cake, the cake stand, and the counter.
I picked it all up, carried it outside, and left it.
The next morning the deck table held one disheveled cake, absent of ants.

So far here in our Shire house, the ants come, the ants go.
For the most part, they keep their numbers low and behave like gentlemen.
So for now we will coexist. 
But I've always got the vinegar ready if they wear out their welcome.

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