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.