29 January 2010

the ants are marching

Jules has a new pet. Several hundred new pets, to be exact. Jules loves his ants. Well, maybe not the ants, but he loves to watch me squish them between my fingers when I find them, and he loves it when I use the word HATE when I talk about them.

If you haven't surmised it yet, let me spell it out for you: we have an ant problem. It started about three years ago with a tiny trickle and, over the last few years, has grown positively unwieldy. They started out simply coming through the front door, and the very old and very drafty windows. I kept them at bay by sprinkling baking soda along these openings, but ants do climb, and the crafty little bastards were soon coming in through the
tops of our doors and windows. Not wanting to spray some nasty birth-defect-or-worse causing insecticide, I opted for the next best thing: ant bait, which coaxed our new pets into neat little trails in and out of the house, and then on to certain death.

They've returned sooner than they usually do this year, and have already gotten craftier, coming into the house through the vent in our bathroom, a place un-bait-able. And three times now I have had to fish them out of my
pants. MY PANTS! I've had enough. Really. Enough.

So I called a couple of pest control companies and one of them came out to my house this morning. The nineteen year old guy that inspected our house assured me that the insecticide they used (Cloraphenapyr) was perfectly safe for humans (even of the small variety). He even told me that he considers it so safe he's stopped wearing much in the way of protective clothing when he applies it. They've sprayed the Ronald McDonald house with it, for crying out loud, so it must be safe. He encouraged me to do the research on it myself, and if I was happy enough with what I found, to call and schedule an appointment. So I Google'd and, of course, found reports that found it mostly safe, except that it
may be carcinogenic. Stop.

So I contacted another "ecologically sound" company and asked about what they used. Their brand of insecticide (Bifenthrin) got similar reports. And because they're supposedly eco-friendly, their services cost approximately three times as much.

So what's a mother to do?

Some days I wish I could move to a simpler age, where I was not required to play the role of EPA agent, personal chef, nurse, vocational counselor, the list goes on and on and on... to my children under five. An age that looked more like this:

Yes, that's right. I wish I could just slap up some DDT-treated wallpaper in the kids' room (because ants carry
disease and not merely because they're annoying), convinced by the ad that it's perfectly safe and oh-so-handy, and kiss my ant problem goodbye. Sure, my children might be diagnosed with malignant cancerous growths 57 or so years on, but by that time I'd be dead, or at least too far gone in my dementia (no doubt brought on by the aluminum in my deodorant, but that's another vocation) to even realize it. Ahhhhh, simpler times.


  1. Didn't you know that West Ballard is built on a giant sugar ant hill! We cannot win, we must just submit! after I realized that, my outlook changed. I do not know if anyone since the history of time has ever been able to win against these tiny monsters...well maybe those families who had the stylish wall paper!

    good luck and update when you can on the battle!

  2. oh please, say it ain't so, Sharon! well, I at least need to figure out a way to keep them out of my pants. any tips on that?

  3. We have an ongoing ant battle as well. I really like the syrup and borax technique.

    In case you don't know it: Pool a little syrup on a piece of foil, then sprinkle it liberally with borax. Place it as close to the source of your invasion as possible. Eventually, they find it it and start carrying the sugar soaked borax back to the nest. It sometimes takes a long time because until you kill the queen, she keeps producing new generations of ants, but eventually your invasion will slow to a trickle.

    Jules will LOVE watching the process, I promise. Even if it doesn't work, at least you've diverted the ants to a contained place rather than into your pants!

  4. My entire kitchen and back door was covered in baking soda last year. It worked for a while and then I saw this special forces ant climbing over it. I knew they had won. I HATE them too K. Hate is NOT too strong a word in this case ;) and I think Borax is toxic too.

  5. update: so far we've opted for the Borax bait and it has obliterated two of the trails coming into the house (through a tiny hole in a window frame and the mudroom), but two others (the trail coming out of the fan in the bathroom and the one that's now coming out of the light fixture in the adjacent room) have only been reduced in number. Not sure what's different about the ceiling ants, except that they seem to jump from the ceiling like little paratroopers once inside, and I don't know if I can hold out an entire season if there's a barrage of them! But thanks for the advice and moral support!


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