Ants have invaded my townhouse, and I am not happy about this.
That’s an understatement. When I say “not happy,” I really mean, “terrified and in a wild panic.” I despise ants, and they scare me. We all have our weaknesses. For Superman, it was Kryptonite. Indiana Jones feared snakes. Me? I have an ungodly terror of ants.
My fear dates back to childhood. Growing up in Hawaii wasn’t all pineapples and coconuts. There were also cockroaches, and rats. Mosquitoes the size of Volkswagens. And the aforementioned ants. Apparently tourists aren’t the only ones who enjoy hanging out in paradise. Some of those critters would look right at home sipping a Mai Tai poolside.
One day, when I was six or so, my brother and I were playing out back, and he inadvertently sat down on an anthill. Suddenly, they were crawling all over his legs and back. Horrified, I dashed inside the house, grabbed a broom, and proceeded to swat him, over and over again, in an effort to dislodge the ants. It worked, but I swear, that incident scarred me for life. I had nightmares about it for years. Is it any wonder when I see a trail of ants I picture them swarming over a human being and devouring his flesh, leaving nothing but a pile of bones in their wake? So, okay, Scott got a couple of bites at worst. But if I hadn’t swept in with that broom (ha) when I did, he could have been reduced to a skeletal corpse within minutes. I hope he recognizes that I saved his life that day in 1975.
So, when my daughter informed me last night that there were ants in the kitchen, I reacted exactly as one would expect for a man of 41: I screamed like a little girl.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Of course I didn’t scream like a little girl. I screamed like a woman, dammit. (And if you think I’m kidding about that, talk to my son, who was laughing his ass off across the room). I can’t help it. My skin was crawling, the hairs on my arms standing at full attention. You know how it is with bugs. You see them crawling around, and suddenly, it feels like they are crawling all over you! I could barely sleep, imagining I felt them walking across my skin.
Once my scream faded into silence, I decided to reclaim my throne and eradicate the unwelcome houseguests. Some people use bug spray, others turn to ant traps. I reached for the baby powder. I had an ant problem once last year, and a little bit of internet research taught me that baby powder is an effective remedy against ants. How, exactly, this works is a bit of a mystery, but apparently the talc (talcum powder, a main ingredient) affects their sense of touch and confuses them, and the fragrance affects their sense of smell. I’m not really one to question why, as long as it works, and it does. I sprinkled some on the carpet and vacuumed it up, and then dusted the trail of ants winding their way through my kitchen. Sure enough, within minutes they were either dead or gone.
But they were still coming from out of the woodwork. You could see the next batch of troops approaching; once they hit the Wall Of Baby Powder Doom, they kind of stopped, looked at one another (I swear they did! I hate that they are intelligent!!), and then simply marched around it. I can’t just coat the entire kitchen in a baby powder blizzard, and not because I don’t want the room that I cook in to remind me of a diaper (though there is that, too). I don’t want to have to walk through powdery drifts of the stuff. So, it appears, I’ll have to formulate a second stage of attack.
I took the cat’s food dish, placed it in a bigger bowl, and poured in some water. Voila – instant moat! Now, her food is safe. Hmm…too bad I can’t use that same approach on my townhouse and surround it with water (although with all the recent rain we’ve been having, that might just happen anyway).
I’ll figure something out. This is all-out war now, and I will not surrender my house to these damn insects. I will emerge victorious, or die trying. And I will try to limit my screams to something more manly next time.
As a reward, once they’re gone, I’m considering a vacation. Somewhere nice, and warm, and tropical. Maybe Hawaii…
On second thought, strike that.