Sunday, May 11, 2014

The ants go marching

We traveled to Kenya last year, and as we spent time on the game reserves watching the animals, I realized, finally and truly, that we are all the same. Those animals, us humans, we're all on this planet together.

Even the carpenter ants.

I have a lot of respect for how ants operate. I remember the ant farm of my childhood. Those little creatures were busy, each doing their own job for the cooperative survival of the colony. It amazes me how they've evolved to be successful that way.

Last year, the carpenter ants - big and black - came into our house. For a month or so in the summer they explored our kitchen, a dozen at a time. And our bathroom, two or three at a time. We had a man come out and lay down some organic chemical. The ants reappeared, though in much smaller numbers - three or four a day instead of dozens. Then their active period ended and we didn't see them any more.

I had a feeling they had not left the property and watched for them again this year. Last week they showed up, one by one by ten by twenty in the kitchen, one by one by two in the bathroom. Art stepped on the creatures as he found them, I sprayed them with 409. Still they came. I wore shoes in the kitchen; the idea of stepping on one creeped me out.

Finally I logged onto Angie's List and called several of the recommended exterminators. I was hoping for a nontoxic organic substance, but no one advertised they used one. One company was owned by a veteran and had over a hundred positive references, so I scheduled them to come out on Friday.

We had to leave the house - with our cat - for four hours. The tech said the odor bothered some people, but I wondered whether the fumes might be toxic. I didn't ask. Art and I ran several errands with Larisa the Confused Cat. Always before she'd been put in her crate to go to the vet. This time that didn't happen. She was quiet in her crate in the back seat, her eyes huge.

When we came home there was no odor in the house and there were a dozen dead ants in the kitchen, with a half dozen or so moving around sluggishly. We'd been told to leave the dead ones on the floor, because others would drag them back to the nest. The chemical on their bodies would be dispersed and the rest of the ants would die.

We went to bed on Friday night. Saturday morning in the kitchen, half the dead ants were gone and no live ones remained. On Saturday afternoon we swept up the bodies and took them outside.  It is now Sunday. We have seen no live ants in the house in two days.

I am relieved. At the same time, I am sad. Not for the ants, but for whatever chemical it was that killed them. I hope it's toxic only for ants - and only the intruders. I have no wish to overkill. Actually, I have no wish to kill at all. If I'd been able to tell them to leave, and they had, that would have been good enough for me.

I still believe we're all on this planet together.  

14 comments:

Judith Bell said...

I feel the same way about mice in the rig. I try to tell them to leave, but it just doesn't work. I'm afraid it's curtains for them if they don't heed my advice. It's not a nice part of life, but I'm afraid it's necessary.

Tom Sightings said...

Agree on both counts

Madeline Kasian said...

I had an ant problem in our last house. I had good luck with sprinkling baby powder across the door jamb where they seemed to be gaining access. Forget where i read about this but it worked like a charm..baby powder!! (It did not kill the ants already inside,I had to get rid of them, but no more new ants crossed the baby powder line! )

Weekend-Windup said...

I too have watched the works of ant.They work all the time.

Olga Hebert said...

Ants are industrious creatures, but they can keep their labors outside, thank-you very much.

Teresa Evangeline said...

There are some things, despite my sincere desire to live peacefully with all life, that I will not share my home with: mice and mosquitoes (the most common interlopers here) and, in the SW, centipedes. No can do. I haven't had a problem with ants (I so love them, too), but anything that seems to have invaded my space has to go and not always alive. Asian beetles are my latest nemeses. I would not make a very good Buddhist monk.

DJan said...

I live on the second floor of an apartment complex, so maybe that's why I don't see any ants around here. We have fruit flies, they are the worst, other than mosquitoes. Glad you were successful at getting rid of them, Linda. I don't like to kill things, either, but I do it if necessary. :-)

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

We don't like to kill them, either, but enough is enough. Last year we found a nest they were coming from, and we poured boiling water into it. Saw many fewer ants the next day so did it again, and they were eliminated. May try a line of baby powder if/when new ones find us.

Arkansas Patti said...

I had them once and the exterminator said they can be as destructive on your house as termites. Hate chemicals, sometimes we have no choice. Shoo just doesn't work.

Retired English Teacher said...

I understand you dilemma. I would not want to encounter those ants either. You did what you had to do. I hope this puts an end to it for you.

Dee said...

Dear Linda, like you, it's hard for me to use something toxic in the house or on the yard. I worry about the ground water outside and the cats inside. And also, like you, I feel that we are One with all of nature. I'd like to embrace the desire "to do no harm." But several times I've given in to the desire to be rid of something that's annoying. I've looked for "healthy" ways to do this--for organic compounds--but there are not always possible to find. So for me this is a true dilemma. Peace.

Barbara Torris said...

I love the way ants greet each other going to and fro to the nest. I am like you linda...I just want them to stay OUTSIDE where they belong. Carpenter Ants can eat up the house just like termites..or at least that is what I think I know.

Darn.

Barbara

dkzody said...

Vinegar will keep ants away. Pest control companies here will not kill ants as they eat termites which are a very big problem.

Alta Peng said...

That's true. We do what we can to keep our houses in order. With that said, we should really go about pest control in the safest and least contaminating way that we can. There is no need for further unwanted consequences caused by pests, right?

Alta Peng @ Liberty Pest Management