By Kathy | October 22, 2010
I often write newspaper and magazine articles about what to do, and what not to do, in your home and garden. Topics like how to keep away gophers, how to fix bad soil, how to create a drought-resistant garden and so forth.
Recently I wrote about ants. Specifically, how to keep them away, and what to do if they should invade your happy home. Now there’s nothing in the rule book that says I automatically become an expert merely by writing an article about something, but when I’m done with it I often I feel like I do know a lot about the topic.
I have to admit I was feeling pretty smug about the ant thing. I felt I had a pretty good handle on the whole keeping-ants-out-of-the-house thing since I haven’t had an ant invasion at my house in a few years.
So I wrote things like, “Don’t leave food lying around,” and “Clean up your kitchen right away after eating,” and “Keep things clean, clean, clean.” There was other stuff too, but that was the gist of it. Ants like food; get rid of the food and you discourage the ants. It’s simple enough.
Like I said, I was feeling smug. And then it happened.
The ants came marching, one by one. Into my house. Hurrah.
Actually, they came marching by the hundreds and seemed pretty intent on making an ant superhighway straight through my kitchen.
This was disconcerting, to say the least. Plus I had set myself up as some kind of ant expert (at least in my own mind) and now stood by staring, dumbfounded, as the insects skittered along my linoleum.
The conventional wisdom is that you must find out what the ants are going after, and then remove the offending item. Also, interrupt their trail with something that has a strong smell; this disrupts the scent messages they lay down for the other ants to follow. Putting out ant bait also will kill them after a few days because they take the poison bait back to the nest.
But I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what they were going for. They seemed to just be passing through. I wiped up their path several times; they just kept coming back.
This past weekend, I decided to get serious about the ants. I found the ant bait traps and put them around when the ants would run across them. I wiped up the trail yet again. Still the parade of six-legged critters went on. And on.
I was having breakfast Sunday morning when I began thinking about this little honey jar I have. It’s kind of a cute little thing to store honey in and I keep it handy beside the dining room table, just in case someone wants to have honey on their toast.
As I was thinking about it, my eye went to it — and sure enough, that’s what the ants were after.
So there was one mystery solved. The other — why it took me the better part of a week to notice this — will never be satisfactorily explained.
I removed the offending honey jar, ran hot water over it for a while, and watched the ants come boiling out. Scary.
The ant extravaganza is finally over. They’ve left, discouraged by the sudden lack of honey and the presence of ant bait. I can’t say I’m sorry they’re gone.
However, I do have to deal with the feeling of my own inadequacy, because obviously I am no kind of expert at all, in ants or anything else.
Pride goeth before a fall, or in my case, in the fall. When the ants came marching in.