Unwanted Dinner Guests Feel at Home

I have often wondered about ants. If they’re that busy, where do they find the time to crash your dinner parties and barge into your outdoor picnics?

Much as I’ve tried to rid myself of these pests, they continue to make themselves at home inside my kitchen, bedroom, and anywhere else that’s fit to wander and roam.

Of course, all the essentials are there to attract them: Cupcakes. Sugar. Cereal and coffee cups. They’re in boxes and outside the bread line.

The assault came just after having my summer camp power-washed. Up to that point, they were few and far between. Now, I’m getting small ones, large ones, and flying ants bearing wings. The carpenter ants must have been occupied building and tearing down homes.

“We’ve got a problem,” the family mandates, voicing its disapproval. “With guests coming and grandchildren afoot, the last thing we need is an insect invasion.”

“Well, don’t get antsy about it,” I tell them. “We’ll get this nuisance under control.”

Off to the lumberyard I go, picking up repellents and ant traps. First, I spray the recommended powder around the exterior like I do every spring. Used to be white but brown blends in more with the dirt foundation.

Next, I gravitate to a liquid killing system. Place a dab or two on a bait plate and let the remedy handle the rest. For good measure, I also add a solution called “mata hormigas.” Sounds ominous, no? Then come the small cans with the holes you puncture in.

My house looked like a bona fide ant control center. A lot of good it did! All I got was an exercise in futility. The refugees must have escaped and spread the word to their colonies and they dispatched their armies.

After all else failed, on came a call to the professionals. I needed a witch doctor—and needed one badly.

Never mind the ants. I’ve also had my share of spiders, an occasional mouse or two, and other uninvited critters. Don’t ask me how, but a chipmunk scampered inside one afternoon.

When you live in the woods, there’s no telling who might drop by at a moment’s notice, invited or not. I’ve also attracted some undesirable humans over the years. Given a choice, I prefer ants. They keep it quiet and can be swept under the rug.

We’ve always maintained an open door policy around here. If it walks or crawls, the welcome sign is up. But we have one standing rule: When we dine, please leave the premises the same way you entered. House tours can be arranged with a broom.

I recall my grandmother once telling me, “A pest never goes where he is told.” The woman was a true philosopher and her words of wisdom always came true, even with laggard ants.

On a lighter scale, I enjoy animated movies and rented one for my grandkids called “Antz.” This was before my problem. I actually laughed into hysterics.

The film is about a worker ant named Z (Woody Allen) who strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. He falls in love with ant-Princess Bela (Sharon Stone) and strives to make social inroads and then must save the ant colony from the treacherous scheming of the evil general. I won’t divulge more in case you wish to enjoy it.

But be warned. What you see in the cartoons and animated clips are a lot different from the real McCoy. Carpenter ants can eat your home to sheds and invade your shed for dessert.

My house-caller wound up spraying both the exterior and interior while I left the premises for two hours. A six-month contract was included in the agreement, even though I pack up every September and head for home.

The winter months can be lonely around here with bare cupboards, so if one or two ants wish to drop by, let them be my guest. Excuse me while I flick one off my computer screen right now. They like TV screens, too, as well as toilet seats, armchair rests, and arms. Better them than mosquitoes, bees, or hornets.

My backyard is a haven for God’s creatures. Of the lot, I love my singing birds best and keep them well fed. A birdbath complements the setting. My choice of seed is “supreme blend,” from a specialty store, not the generic supermarket kind.

Now, for the topper: how to get rid of ants inside your potted plants. One expert had the most illogical solution.

Cinnamon. Sprinkle some on top of the soil and they should leave. Wonder if it will work on shelves?

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
Tom Vartabedian

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