Monday, May 19, 2008

Ants Are Marching

Well, they're more than a month late, but they're back. Every spring, we're pestered by ants. And it's the weirdest infestation ever. For one thing, regardless of what we - and our pest guy - do, it lasts a few weeks. As far as I can tell, this period can't be significantly increased or decreased by treatment or lack thereof. Still, every year I'm willing to try something new. And either nothing's worked so far, or I haven't found their real access point yet. I had such high hopes for last year's chalk line. This year: spray baby oil. And, if step 2 is necessary: corn meal.

They're tiny little black ants, about the size of the millimeter line on a plastic school ruler. I usually think they're minute pieces of lint until they start scurrying frantically across our white bathroom floor or bathtub.

And that's the other really weird thing: location. These ants are only ever found a few at a time in the master bathroom. I've never, ever seen one in the kitchen, which shares a wall with the master bath. The fruit bowl is completely safe. Nor do I see the ants in the family room, living room, or master bedroom, despite the fact that each of those places seems a likelier hangout for ants. The master bedroom is obviously close to the master bath, and has a larger window on the same wall. The family room has a screen door opening out onto the patio. The front/living room has large windows kissed by long tendrils of ivy, a known insect and arachnid hang-out.

I don't know why this limited influx of teeny tiny ants bothers me so much, but it really does. As good ant karma, I've steadfastly refused to kill the small spider living on the inside of my front door, between the thin curtain and the glass. It won't do any practical good with the ants, but maybe it will broadcast the message to the elements of nature encroaching on my house: you stay in your space, I'll stay in mine.

Because I really don't like to encounter living creatures while I'm naked and vulnerable. For the most part.


Kay Olson said...

Ants in my house every year too. In the kitchen, mostly. One year they started a nest in a cupboard and it was about the grossest thing I've ever come across. But yeah, it just lasts a few weeks.

mypetrock said...

We've had good luck with Orange Guard ( Apparently the orange peel extract kills the little buggers on contact. And it's safe around pets and kids. YMMV, but we like it.

thistle said...

I'm sure you know this, but since it was news to me when I read about it in torts class--keep the baby oil away from any actual babies.

Sarahlynn said...

Kay: yuck yuck yuck

mypetrock, whenever I got into the bathroom, I kill a few tiny ants with a piece of toilet paper. I haven't needed a spray to kill large numbers of them, and I'm not sure that any poison they take home with them would be effective, either, since what we seem to have is a slow but continuous stream of lost souls. (They're not in proper line formation, by any means.) If I could just find their access point, perhaps some barrier system might be effective. Argh!

Thistle, do you mean the general risk of aspirating oil? Or is there something particularly dangerous about baby oil? I'm thinking that it should be perfectly safe when smeared or sprayed along door jams and window sills, if otherwise kept out of reach of children. Or is there something I'm missing?

(The term "baby oil" always amuses me, when contrasted with, say, "olive oil," "whale oil," etc.)

Tara Marie said...

The ants go marching....

I dislike ants very much, and they too like to visit our home this time of the year [except I get the big carpenter ants] and they seem to get active after the local farmers plow.

Makes you want to go buy an anteater as a pet!

Tracey said...

We have over the past 2 days had a minor ant influx into our newly fixed up (to be more kid friendly) sunroom. Coincidence? The kids, however, are delighting in ant massacres, which is horrible...and yet oddly fascinating, all at the same time.

Sarahlynn said...

Tara, we used to get the big carpenters, too, a few years ago. I HATED them. Fortunately, we were able to (finally) find and destroy their colonies and they come visit no more. Since we don't have farms nearby, they were living somewhere on our property. First we found a colony destroying one of the beams outside our screened in porch and we thought we had them licked, but no. Then we discovered that was just a sattelite colony to the huge one investing our old landscaping railroad ties. Once we had the new retaining walls put in, the ants (and their yellow jacket neighbors) disappeared. Halleluia!

Tracey, I'm thinking that it's not a coincidence at all, but the weather. We've had so much rain and so many cool days, I think it kept the bugs down for a while. I'd love to see the kids killing ants. Hah!