20 April 2007

Insects I have known.

We have had an invasion of ants for the past week or so. When we returned from our vacation, we found that ants had established a strong presence from the laundry room, through the kitchen, to the cat food at the top of the cellar steps.

The first step in our counterattack was to remove the food supply, so I stuck the cat dish in a pie plate, filled the pie plate with water, and created a moat. The ants weren't terribly happy with that development. The second step was to seal their entrance, which I did with caulk along the baseboards in the laundry room.

These ants are resilient. They haven't had a steady supply of food for a while, but they're making do: they invaded the kitchen trash can, forcing us to put a lid over top of it, which by the way is very annoying when you're doing things like cooking and have need to throw away paper towels, little bits of fat and the tips of green beans, often with no free hand to unlatch the trashcan lid. They also took a liking to the fresh flowers we had on the dining room table. And of course, they found/made a new entrance, one that's not so easily caulked. But their numbers have declined.

As inconvenient as this little ant incursion has been, though, it pales in comparison to the beetles that overran us a few years ago: I think they were flour beetles. They were smaller than these red ants and they literally got into everything unless it was airtight. They worked their way into bags of bread, closed boxes of macaroni and cheese, and any pasta bags we thought we'd closed up with twist ties. However, their end came when we discovered, by accident, their source of power. One quiet day in the laundry room we heard something normally masked by the humming of the machines: a crunching sound, faint but steady, and once we saw the opened bag of birdseed that sound became disgusting and amazing: there were so many beetles that we could hear them eating the birdfeed. And of course, once you've heard that, your ears are attuned to it and you can't ignore it or forget it. Even when the birdfeed is long out your door.

These are among the surprises that await returning vacationers.


Momentary Academic said...

I hate ants so much! I think that the ant traps work.

Reya Mellicker said...

You see, it's experiences like this that made people think they had to conquer nature, way back when. We've overconquered nature by this time ... oops ... but just in case I ever wonder why or how we got so far out of a harmonious relationship with the natural world, all I have to do is remember various ant invasions of past springs.

I use poison - there ain't room for the both of us in this house. Hate the little buggers!