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?