I am at war.
I’ve had enough of the ants. Damn ants!
Across this computer screen, up and down my limbs, on the floors, counters, sinks, stove, in my cup, on my plate, on my skull, across my reading glasses. The last straw was when I noticed dead ants inside the pan I was cooking hot dogs in. They weren’t there when I started. Apparently, as the pan is heating they come running – then get burned and fall in? Enough. The battle is on.
Like everyone, we have dealt with ants during our lives. In Cleveland, Ohio ants are a minor seasonal nuisance. But since retiring in late 2015 and spending most of our time in tropical climates, we’ve gotten much more familiar with ants.
Especially here in the Philippines. My God! They are everywhere. Constantly scouting, scavenging, running around, marching, here and there, back and forth, all different sizes and colors and speeds. And they bite. Indeed, my wife, Ellen, has been bitten (and swollen) numerous times. Me too.
Truthfully, ants have been a problem in all tropical countries we’ve visited. And when I say ‘a problem’, I really mean we’ve CAUSED the problem. The ants are just doing their natural thing. Still, here in the Philippines, it seems worse.
You’re probably already saying, “the problem is food (sugar)”. And you’re right. We learned quickly, anyplace in the tropics, if you leave food sitting around, ants will appear in minutes. So we don’t leave food around. But the ants continue.
Still, it is likely that food remains the problem. No matter how careful a human is when preparing and eating food – or cleaning up afterward – food particles can escape detection. Also other food ‘opportunities’ don’t immediately come to one’s mind… like ants eating other insect carcasses.
Thus, I have begun a battle; to free our comfortable, clean, modern apartment of this enemy ant menace.
To start the war with ants, I have moved our trash and recycling bags outside. They now hang in a tree next to our second-floor rear balcony. Yes, in a tree (photo below).
First, they were hung high on handles in the kitchen – but trails of ants would march through, up the walls, counters, and cabinets and find them. I tried putting the bags on the back balcony but the ants just marched farther – and back the other way – though the apartment, under the door, outside, down the stairs, into a crack in the sidewalk. Now the ants have to climb the tree from the yard below to get the trash – and they do! Ha! But it works! They are not able to access our living space from the tree.
Next, I ‘deconstructed’ our kitchen – removing all dishes and utensils, pots, pans, bottles, etc., from each counter, then with a spray bottle of homemade cleaner I wiped and scrubbed every surface. Of course, I also did the stove, the sink, the cabinet fronts, the fridge, dish rack, everything.
Then, I carefully swept and mopped the floors in the kitchen and dining areas – including the cupboards. Once they were dry, I carefully sprayed some of the nooks and crannies along the floor and inside cupboard corners where ants had been hanging out with bug killer. Yes, on our last trip to town, I purchased a can of insecticide. Sorry, ants. Chemical warfare.
I’m not really into chemical solutions, but it’s a war! And finding this can took effort. Many shops had only huge cans of Chinese brand bug sprays. Lord knows what poison is in a 24-inch-tall Chinese can – so I kept shopping for a familiar western label that says ‘naturgard’.
Finally, I took the naturgard killer outside and sprayed along that trail down the stairs and into the crack in the concrete where the ant line would start and finish. I gave it a good foamy, soaking, spraying. Hopefully, it gets down in the foxhole and destroys the nest – like a grenade.
With everything clean and tidy and put back into place, Ellie came out to inspect the battlefield. She was pleased. BUT, you guessed it! Within minutes, individual ‘scout ants’ were zooming around the counters and floors again. Uhhhggg! At least we know there is nothing there. And they aren’t summoning their army buddies by the thousands to invade. I’ve been squishing the individuals with my fingers. Hand to hand combat.
I’ve been checking ever since the cleanup battle ended and aside from the occasional ‘scout’ we are ant free and intend to keep it that way. The very last weapon in the war — hot peppers. Yup. We’ve had a dish of hot peppers on the counter for days. It’s the only thing the ants seem to avoid completely. So we’ve now strategically placed a few little dried peppers around the kitchen to discourage them. Like land mines.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails, & more beer.
Life is NOW!
Editor’s note: there are nearly 500 different types of ants in the Philippines, and scientists believe there may be more.
Thanks for reading, “At war with ants.”
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