I started seeing them earlier this week.
Scout ants – the lone soldiers that precede the invasion. Their job: to gather intelligence and map the location of unguarded foodstuffs then return to the nest and issue the order to invade.
They’re patient. They’re waiting for me to make a mistake. They’re waiting for me to leave toast crumbs on the counter, a Starbucks cup on the desk or a dish with a little bit of food on it in the sink. They’re waiting for me to forget to put the blackberries back in the refrigerator.
They’re thorough. I see them in different places every day.
They’re careful. There aren’t enough of them to constitute a trail that I can follow to find out where they’re coming from. Yet.
It’s a game we play several times per year.
I don’t so much mind a few ants. I admire ants, actually. They’re clever. They’re industrious. They’re organized. This is more than I can say for myself most days. No, I don’t mind a few ants.
I mind when a few ants invite their four thousand buddies to join them. It’s like telling your kids they can have a few friends over and discovering the entire junior high school population in your swimming pool when you come home.
So, much as I hate to do it, I kill the scout ants, because I know if they find a morsel of food they’ll sound the alarm and my kitchen will be ant-central-station. If I thought they’d just carry off a few bread crumbs to their pals and be done with me, I’d let them go. Of course, if I permitted that, I could be opening up a whole ‘nother can of worms. If I let them take a few bread crumbs, what next? Would I put my sandwich down to answer the phone only to come back and find it gone? Would I catch them trying to sneak a beer out of the refrigerator? I know it would only be a matter of time before I came home from the movies one night, looked around my studio and thought “Waaaaaaiiit a minute……where’s my TV?” No, ants are a little TOO industrious. It’s best to nip their aspirations in the bud.
Ants get in to EVERYthing. They get into places where you didn’t even know you had places. High places. Low places. Odd places. Like your iron. I discovered this when I was ironing and steam-flattened ants appeared in burgeoning patterns across my favorite blouse. You could tell some of them had been trying to run. It was obvious that most of them never saw it coming and were plastered with WTF expressions permanently steam-seared onto their faces.
Ants get into light sockets. Did you know they make little popping sounds when they reach a certain temperature?
Ants get into plants. A blow dryer on the lowest heat setting will get them off the plants, but will also fling ants and dirt all over the room. I found this out exactly the way you might imagine.
I don’t like waging chemical warfare. So I’ve tried other methods of ant control. I’ve tried cloves. I’ve tried cucumbers. I’ve tried ant bait. I’ve tried hairspray (not spraying it on them, just bashing them with the can). I even used a lint brush once. Okay, twice.
But the best solution, by far: the vacuum.
No crushing little ant bodies, no scraping up and disposing little ant remains. No little CSI ant investigations. The ants are sucked away leaving no clue as to the cause of their demise. It’s quick and I imagine it’s painless. They never know what hit them.
Or, maybe they do. Perhaps some enterprising little ant with a little ant digital camera caught the incident on video. Somewhere on some tiny ant computer screen logged in to AntTube.com, perhaps I am starring in a shaky video titled The Redhead Vacuum Massacre.
If I am, I can only hope the video wasn’t taken one of those times I was vacuuming in my underwear.