If you live in Southern California, you know what I’m talking about. I swear I live on an ant hill. Summer is the worst when those pesky suckers are looking for water or whatever they are doing, but I’m already battling them in trickles this spring. And let’s not even mention the swarming A-holes that I had to thwart this past winter when we had our “torrential” rains… I am not an exterminator so I have no clue how ants colonize, but there are definitely ant colonies in our walls. (I’m pretty sure they share space with the termites that live in there too…) The ones that come up from under our raised foundation find their way through tiny cracks in our ancient hardwood flooring, but last year, we had an incident where ants were actually coming out of an outlet in the kitchen. Ghaaaaaa! Writing about them gives me the serious heebee-jeebees but I have to share a few things.
Keep your kitchen clean. I wipe down the countertops and the stove every single night and there are very few occasions when there are dishes left in the sink. But ants smell everything. I mean, I don’t know if they can actually smell, but the little f-ers that live in our house have radar or something. If there is a rogue dish with even the tiniest scrap of food left in the sink, they will find it and come morning, I’m raging with the portable Dyson, and cursing (not so discretely) under my breath. The hardest part about “keeping it clean” is that when you have kids, there will be crumbs. And undetected crumbs bring in the troops. Last summer during the height of my battle with the ants, I kid you not, I saw one carrying a 1/4 of a cheerio. One ant! It must have been five times its body size and it was trudging along in line with the thing. WTF?!?! I admit that I don’t have the energy to vacuum every night so undetected crumbs happen, but if you are serious about the war, keeping your countertops and the floors wiped and swept at the end of the day will save your sanity – because I feel like ants do most of their scouting and heavy lifting in the dead of the night.
Check your potted plants. I always have orchids in my house and for some reason, ants looooove to live in them. Why? I don’t know. But just be aware that if you spent a fortune on that rare phalaenopsis or prized cymbidium, that ants don’t discriminate and can ruin your investment in a flash. You can set the pot outside and flush the colony out with a good dousing, but several times, I was just so fed up that I threw a few perfectly good plants away.
Opt for natural extermination if you are going to call an exterminator. For obvious health reasons. But honestly, we did this and the ants still proliferate amongst us. It seems like a losing battle and it drives me ABSOLUTELY bonkers. I think we were ant free for a few months but like what they say about cockroaches, ants seem to be bomb proof. I don’t have a sound recommendation for annihilating the unkillable.
My current battle strategy. Sevin. I swear by the stuff. I sprinkle it around the house perimeter at the beginning of every summer and it keeps the outsiders out. The ones that live in the walls and under the house, I can’t seem to control, but at least I know there are no newcomers from the outside. If I find a line of ants in the house, I remove the bait, vacuum the line, find the source and sprinkle Sevin where they are coming from, then I vacuum again. This usually stops the assault. I know I sound like a crazy person. I guess when it comes to ants, I am a stark raving lunatic. It’s because I feel like I am constantly cleaning and I don’t have a dirty house, but they still manage to infiltrate and I feel angry and hopeless about it. If you are an ant, you are on the “other side.” I feel zero remorse for the thousands of lives I have ended and probably as retribution, their brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and 5 kabillion children keep haunting me. Spiders, flies and other pests are just as gross, but nothing gets my blood boiling quite like a black line of marching evil.
Our new house… We are going to have a boat foundation. That’s the type where you basically pour concrete across the entire breadth of your home. Because we are building on sand, it’s typical. I. Can’t. Wait. I can’t frickin’ wait to tear this old, ant ridden house down, haul the debris and the ants that live in it away and bury the ant hill we currently sit on under the glorious, crushing weight and expanse of concrete. I imagine a celestial beam of sunlight will shine on our property the day the cement trucks pull up. The remaining survivors better retreat to… wherever… because I will make for damn sure that the new house is sealed from the ground up.
I don’t want to put it out into the universe, but how much do you want to bet that there will be ants in our future second floor kitchen. I can’t quite fathom what I will do when that day comes…
May you win the battle.