Tuesday, June 16, 2009

They're baaaaaaack!

I don't really have an excuse for putting it off any longer. There is no knitting progress to show you, and nothing else of particular interest to discuss. I might as well get it over with. If you are of a delicate or squeamish disposition, you may wish to come back tomorrow.

So. The ants.

I like to think of myself as a live-and-let-live kind of person. If you aren't doing anything to disturb me, I won't do anything to disturb you. But there are limits. And, as longtime readers might recall, Piggy tends to react swiftly and severely to those who venture beyond those limits.

About two weeks ago, while enjoying a none-to-healthy sweet snack, I noticed an ant strolling across my coffee table. Now, I couldn't really blame him for trying, so I merely brushed him off the table and kept on munching.

He came back. With friends.

I decided to investigate. And quickly discovered (given the tiny size of my apartment, all that was required was a glance in all directions; I didn't even need to get off the couch) there was a rather large number of his buddies roaming around.

Upon further examination (i.e. getting up off the couch and walking 15 or so feet into the bathroom), I found the source of the problem. They were coming in the cracks of the bathroom wall. Well, gaping holes around the pipes would be the more accurate term.

Honestly, my initial goal was containment. So I squashed the 20 or so ants I could see, and I went on the Interwebs to find an eco-friendly ant repellent. I googled, and also hit up my Plurk buddies for advice. And I received several suggestions:

  1. Make sure every surface is clean. Ants like crumbs and stickiness; eliminate those, and they wont' have any reason to enter your home. Use vinegar; ants hate the smell.
  2. Black pepper. Ants avoid it. Sprinkle it around their entrance. And be sure to use freshly ground stuff, said one plurker; the ready-ground stuff didn't seem to do anything.
  3. Cinnamon. As with pepper, ants won't cross a line of cinnamon.

Right. So, I tried all three. It might come as a shock to my mother, but I keep a clean house. I don't leave dirty dishes hanging about, and I keep my counters and floors clean. But they could always be cleaner, right? So Piggy spent a full day dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing and mopping every conceivable surface.

Then I laid a veritable carpet of freshly ground pepper around the ants' front door.

The next day: ants. More of them. Many more. They were feistier, too; I'm thinking they stopped at the pepper just long enough to eat it before moving on.

So I tried the cinnamon. I sprinkled a nice, thick line of it at the point between the ants and no-ants sections of the apartment:


See a problem here? Yep. Piggy obviously sought inspiration from the Maginot Line. With predictable results. Those suckers were crafty: they outflanked the line and pushed on through Piggy's Belgium. So I reinforced the line:


The cinnamon did the job. Problem was, its job was to prevent the enemy from crossing that line. It did nothing to eliminate the ants on the other side of the line. Which in itself wasn't a huge problem; I could squash all the ones already in the bathroom. But for some unknown reason that defies all logic, cinnamon sprinkled at the actual point of entry had zero effect.

And at that point, I'd had enough. I brought in the big guns: the Ant-B-Gon (why, oh, why, must they misspell that? But that's another post). Max, even. Basically, it's just sugar water mixed with Borax. The premise is simple: you place a few drops around the ants' entrance. They are attracted by the poison, come in droves to feast on it, and then bring it back to the colony to share with the queen and all their buddies. The bottle promised to kill off the entire colony within seven days.

So, I put out the poison. And they came. Oh, did they come.


And they were still there the next morning. They didn't seem to be returning to their nest to share with their comrades. On the contrary; it looked like they were pitching tents and settling in for a long visit. Leave it to Piggy to be infested with rogue ants that totally went against the laws of nature.

But within 36 hours, the bathroom was devoid of ants. I breathed a sigh of relief, vacuumed up the Great Wall of Cinnamon, packed away the bottle of Ant Eliminator, and moved on.

But the cunning bastards were just waiting for me to let down my guard.


So up went the Great Wall of Cinnamon 3.0. Fortunately, I caught them early this time, before they could gain much ground, so the line was much shorter.


I even added a couple of giant cinnamon spiders, as an extra deterrent. Spiders eat ants, you see. (Karma coming to bite me in the ass, of course.)


Nice touch, eh?

So. The Ant-B-Gon came back out, and I've been leaving little drops of it all over the place. I may have lost the battle, but I'm determined to win the war.


  1. Isn't it interesting that 'fourmis' sounds better than 'ants'? (ah, French!)

    I just got invaded by some flies. Got any solutions at hand for that?

  2. I had an ant problem a few years ago. They persisted for about four or five days before they all GREW WINGS and started SWARMING around my house. Ew.

    But, ultimately what I learned (through trying cleanup, and alternative remedies - yeast and sugar is apparently poisen to them, but it didn't work) is that what really attracts ants is water. It's why they tend to nest in places like drains (as they were for us - outside our kitchen door) and around pipes. And if they're nesting, you have to kill the nest. Either getting enough of them to carry back poison, or...

    ... well, what we did. Which was to call a chemical-weilding exterminator. I still feel kinda bad, but it did the trick.

  3. I feel your pain. We're having an ant problem also. Unfortunately we haven't figured out where their little ant house is.

  4. No, no, no! You NEED to use Terro. The stuff is amazing. It's liquid you put out for the ants. Within minutes, there are swarms of ants surrounding the Terro, gobbling it up. Do NOT kill the ants. Instead, they'll bring the "yummy" Terro back to their nest, where they infect the queen ant. I promise, in about two days, your ant problem will be gone!