Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Ant Wars: The Battle of the Front Stoop

Antibal the Great

Okay, the last battle may or may not have been won, but the war has yet to be lost. You’ll recall the previous foray between the human and  Armies of the Ondt, yes? The fight lasted about 24 hours, but ultimately the invaders were repelled.

The little Amazons were undefeated, though. Yesterday evening some of their cousins mounted a new attack. Instead of entering the kitchen directly under the back door, this tribe made its way through a rain-weakened patch of framing at the bottom of the front door. Once in, they marched cheerfully through the living room, jogged left at the hall, and entered the Great Restaurant that is the kitchen floor. Not at all interested in the dishwasher, this bunch descended on some microscopic specks near the dog food dish.

This invasion was particularly jarring because I’d just spent a couple of hours cleaning the kitchen and the floors. Along about 9:00 p.m., after vacuuming, dustmopping, baseboard-scrubbing, and steam-mopping, I was just about to put the gear away, stumble into the bedroom, and fall face-forward into the sack when I came upon a line of troops hiking across the living-room floor.

Damn! I thought the floor was clean. Like, really clean. Not so, though: one of the little ladies was staggering across the threshold with a morsel half her own size.

Here’s a discovery: Home-made glass cleaner, the stuff you concoct with rubbing alcohol, a dab of ammonia, a dash of vinegar, and water, kills Ondts every bit as effectively as gagging, stinking, sickening, dangerously toxic bug spray.

Determined not to go through the Raid misery again, I grabbed a squirt bottle that happened to contain my Windex knock-off brew. The plan, really, was to disrupt the ladies’ pheromone trail, confusing them as to where the grocery store might be. First thing that happened when I sprayed a squirt in the Ondts’ direction, though, was that they curled up and croaked right over, just as though I’d sprayed them with a noxious chemical.

Well, ammonia is not exactly a non-noxious chemical. Neither is rubbing alcohol. However, their fumes dissipate quickly, and the house doesn’t stink of petroleum products for days. Within an hour or so, the odor is gone.

The Ant Amazons…not so much.

Laid down a barrier of boric acid across the threshold. The Ondts joined antennae, reared up on their little hind legs, and danced a can-can, singing “nous nous en fions de toi” in a squeaky ant chorus. They strolled across the boric acid as you and I would stroll across low sand dunes. Unharmed, they proceeded to the kitchen. Meanwhile, outliers found ways to get around the barrier without having to contact the stuff and risk taking it home to the hive.

Found some old, dried-out ant baits. Dropped them right in the middle of Ondt Highway 101, shielded from doggie curiosity by an old fan cage. The raiders evinced not the slightest interest.

Spraying the bedoodles out of them with the imitation Windex, however, eventually beat them back. By the time I stumbled off to bed, not a wandering ant was to be seen.

Probably that’s because it was Ondt Bedtime, too.

This morning, an elegant line strung from the front door through the living room and hall into the kitchen, where the troops were chowing down on two spots flavored invisibly with something.

Sprayed the ladies with more DIY glass cleaner, inflicting vast casualties. Poured a quarter gallon of vinegar into a bucket and topped it off with the hottest water I could extract from the water heater. Mopped the kitchen, hall and living room with that.

Chugged down to the Ace to resupply the ant bait arsenal. Dropped a new brand down in front of a roaming scout. She ignored it. Placed a few more outdoors, near the army’s points of entrance.

All’s quiet on the Living Room Front just now. But it’s very hot outside, 105 as the early autumn sun settles into the west and a bank of cumulonimbus rises above the northeastern horizon. What reason is there to believe that Ondts are any more given to trotting around in the noonday sun than the rest of us?

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Author: funny

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  1. I just keep Amdro around and sprinkle a little teaspoon down and they go nuts gathering it and taking it home to the Queen. It kills the queen, so it says on the packaging, and seems to work well. We have enough land that I let the ants build wherever they want, but if they come in the house, they get the Amdro.

  2. Amdro is a type of bait, too. From its website, it looks like it comes in granules, rather than inside plastic packets. I kind of like the packets, because they’re easy to pick up and throw away. Also, with the packets, it’s possible to buy two different types of bait.

    Ant taste in food varies according to the weather, the time of year, and unknown factors affecting the hive’s nutritional needs. For some periods they will crave meats or fatty substances; then for a while they’ll want carbs. So, if you put down two brands, you have a shot at getting them to take a lot of one or the other type.

    Yesterday I picked up a package of a different brand from the one they were ignoring. That seems to have helped. By evening they were swarming the stuff, and this morning they’re not in the house.

    Agreed, I’d rather let the Ondts live, as long as they stay outdoors. An ant is definitely an outside pet! They serve valuable ecological purposes, from cleaning up waste to providing a source of protein for many varieties of birds. Must say, though, that when I moved into this house the yard had more ants than I’ve ever seen in one place. Unlike the present set of scavengers, which are more focused on picking stuff up off the floor than in ripping off chunks of your foot to take back to the nest, the ants that filled the backyard when I moved in were fierce and nasty. You couldn’t walk around out there without getting some mean bites, even if you had on socks and a pair of hiking boots.

    I managed to get rid of those by calling a lot of birds into the yard. Two hanging bird feeders lured enough birds that eat insects as well as seeds to inflict some real damage on those ants. Once the population was cut back a little, I used baits to get rid of the colonies closest to the house and one colony in a far corner whose residents were especially aggressive.

    Come to think of it, with the olive tree in front now big enough to be called a “tree,” I could probably hang a bird feeder out there now. Hm.

  3. Just give up, find the most suitable male and hope to breed your future children into their society.

  4. Heee heeee! I’d make a great Ant Queen. Peel me a grape, Evan!

  5. have you tried diatomacious earth around the perimeter of the house ? we’ve had good results with that when they are on the march

  6. LOL! You are FUNNY about more than just money. My office mates are wondering what I am laughing at behind my 1/2 wall! Thanks for the pick-me-up!

  7. Yes, the Amdro does come in granules. The problem I can see for you is the container is awfully big, ($$$) and you’d only need a teaspoon or two. No need to clean up the granules because the ants clear them away for you. In the house, I’d put down a teaspoon and then lay a plastic colander over the granules so Cassie couldn’t get to them. I’ve never had ants that were picky about Amdro, no matter the time of year. They always clear it away and never come back.

  8. @ sandra jensen: Hooray! Creative Malingering rules!

  9. For six years I fought ants in the kitchen. Finally, I found the bait for which I had searched six long years–Terro. It is only sugar water and borax or boric acid. You can make it yourself, but you have to get the formula just right. No one knows exactly how much sugar, water or boric/borax stuff. I tried and failed. Terro only costs about $3 at Lowe’s. It saved my sanity.

  10. Oh how I hate ant season. Can you list your exact formula of homemade Windex? I have tried countless home-made ant killing remedies, and I have not been real successful.

    Please let us know how it is going!

  11. A friend of mine told me she pours a little meal in the frame of her entry doors. The ants eat it and it supposedly kills them.

  12. I don’t have a great tip, but you reminded me that ants haven’t been a problem this year in San Diego. Last year was horrible! I guess our cooler summer is why they’re not invading homes.