What the ants have taught me

It happens every spring, though I always forget that fact until it happens again. (I call this SAD: Seasonal Amnesic Disorder.) The weather gets nice, the spring rains begin, and the ants appear in the house. Usually it’s the largish black ones, the ones that make me worry that maybe they really are carpenter ants. (They’re never actually that large; I just get paranoid at times.) They drive us crazy for a few weeks, and one day they disappear as mysteriously as they appeared.

This year, the annual invasion was by tiny, black Argentine ants, also known as sugar ants. Even the smallest of crumbs isn’t too small to be overlooked by these tireless little scavengers, and it takes a horde of them to break up and carry off anything bigger than a poppy seed. The upshot? My counters have been immaculate since the beginning of April! I wash dishes as soon as they are dirtied; I even wipe behind canisters and small appliances EVERY DAY!

Sometime in the last week, the ants pretty much disappeared, without warning or fanfare or apparent reason. I see the occasional scout ant here or there, but I make a point of wiping around it when I do. I don’t wish it any harm; in fact, I’m rather grateful to it and its cohorts for reforming my habits a bit. Knowing what a lousy housekeeper I am, the universe has found a way to get at least a little spring cleaning out of me by means of a few (thousand) humble ants.

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15 responses to “What the ants have taught me

  1. Jennifer! there you are…
    I miss you.
    I am sorry you have had Argentinian Ants…do they have proper documentation? why are they in America?
    I like sugar, too.
    and…glad your kitchen is clean.

    🙂
    blessings
    jane

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Thanks; I’ve been missing me, too. The ants have kept me very busy. I’m not good at cleaning, so it takes me a lot longer than most people.

      Speaking of the ants, I suppose it would be more proper to say that they are of Argentine extraction, because they are most definitely native-born ants whose ancestors came from Argentina. Although not exactly welcome, they are more considerate than most house guests because they clean up messes they did not make. Actually, that makes them more considerate than most permanent residents of my house.

      I’ve come to think of them as tiny Muses of domesticity, because they inspire me to clean. And they’re kinda cute: I like the way they sweep the ground in front of them with their antennae, like double metal detectors.

  2. How funny you are! I enjoyed your post. I remember sugar ants well. We had them one year in Ohio really bad. I came home from work and my daughter had decided to take care of them. She sprayed them with hairspray! Can you imagine cleaning up all those bugs stuck to the kitchen floor? Another ant story. Just what you wanted to hear. Blessings to you, Jennifer…

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Oh my goodness! Hairspray? How dreadful, though it was very resourceful and brave and ostensibly helpful of your daughter to come up with that, er, solution.

  3. Perspective is very important! I think of ants as annoying but when you make them part of the team it doesn’t seem so bad! Guess I better finish the last pot and pan!

  4. I hate ants and dread this season too! Do you know what I found is the only thing that works: Chinese chalk. You draw lines and the ants won’t cross them. And then in a matter of minutes, they’re gone. Of course, the stuff may or may not be illegal. But whatever gets the ants away!

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      What is Chinese chalk? I’m intrigued by the idea of illegal chalk — and illegal chalk that also serves as pest control — wild! 🙂

  5. California ants like to appear in the middle of the night. Infestation is the word we use here for this annoying discovery. Usually the discovery is in the morning when we’re trying to rush off to school and work. Once the ants hit the pantry, it becomes a dreadfully long process to completely remove EVERYTHING from the pantry closet, spray, clean and restock….. But, yes, a good motivation to keep it all clean to keep ’em outside where they belong!

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      We had a minor manifestation (man-infestation?) like this shortly after the ants appeared this year. They drew attention to the fact that the kids were being a little, um, careless about the snack shelf in the pantry: open containers, empty wrappers improperly disposed, etc. Interestingly enough, the little critters showed no interest in the trash can or the compost bowl on the counter. They were fairly well-behaved for household pests, mostly highlighting the nuisance of our own shortcomings.

  6. I have been taught this by my dog. We cannot leave breakfast, lunch or dinner plates out and about or he destroys them. I am beginning to hate my dog.

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Whoa! At least the ants don’t destroy the dishes. I guess it’s a REALLY good thing dogs don’t come in colonies, eh? 🙂

  7. Pingback: Saved by the cat | The Daily Compost

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