Monday, July 13, 2009

Lindsay Versus the Ants

There is an old short story called Leiningen Versus the Ants in a compilation of adventure stories my mom had as a child. I read it several times (along with everything else in the house) when I was young. The protagonist, Leiningen, is living in Brazil when a (herd? throng? army?) of ants moves rapidly toward his estate, devouring literally everything in their path. Rather than do the logical thing (run, man! Run!), he decides he can take them. Even when he sees a stag reduced to a pile of bones in minutes by the ants' millions of tiny, hungry jaws. Long story short, the ants make it across the moat he'd rigged around the estate (the resourceful little things used leaves as boats), and once they got to the cement ditch Leiningen had brilliantly filled with gasoline, they paraded through until the ditch was so clogged with little ant carcasses that they could walk dry across the top. But Leiningen, being a man (and likely a former boy scout), lit the gasoline on fire. Which worked pretty well... until the fire went out. So he filled the ditch with gas again and lit it on fire. Which worked pretty well... until he ran out of gas. So Leiningen, being a man, and this being an adventure story, puts on gasoline-drenched clothes, charges through the ants, turns a wheel to divert the river onto his land, washes the ants away and, other than a few ant-administered holes in his skin, is none the worse for wear.

So why am I making you relive Sophomore English class? Because these past couple weeks, I myself have felt some of Leiningen's madness and need to conquer those small nasties of the insect kingdom: in his case, millions of 2-inch long crazy beasties that were likely the inspiration for the graphic ant scene in the newest Indiana Jones movie, in mine, 2-millimeter long black sugar ants.

That's right: we've had an infestation. It started out innocently enough--we would find a tiny ant on the counter, or crawling on the bathroom floor, or one on the pantry doorjamb. I remember cheerfully smashing them and then thinking, somewhat naively, that their short, chubby little bodies and stubby antennae were almost cute. But then they started parading in lines in and out of my pantry, carrying little white cubes in their little black jaws. I'm ashamed to say it, but I became a little bit unhinged.

I called our complex and had them come spray (twice), soaked the carpet with borrowed bug spray where I could see the ants disappearing (after which they would just relocate), sprayed a different kind of bug spray all around the base of the cupboards, baseboards, and pantry door frame, but to no avail. The little buggers just kept coming.

By this point, we had thrown out all of our open boxes of cereal, an open bag of brown sugar, and an unopened bag of brown sugar they somehow wormed their way into (which really ticked me off). I moved all the remaining boxes of cereal and bags of unopened sugar to a high counter top in hopes they would survive the onslaught.

After over a week of vain skirmishes in attempting to rid our house of ants (did I mention we're in a second story apartment? Do you have any idea the distance these bugs must travel?), I declared war. Assisted by my angel friend Kiyomi, I pulled all of the food out of the pantry (discovering in the process that the ants had invaded my precious cinnamon sugar graham crackers) and then opened fire with a hefty bottle of pesticide.

We returned all the food to the pantry a couple hours later, and I watched anxiously (and, I admit, somewhat neurotically) for the next few days to verify the ants had not returned. Victory! Bliss! We truly were ant-free!

And then this morning, I contentedly took my box of cereal out of my ant-free pantry and sat down with my computer and a bowl of Kix only to discover, halfway through my munching, a lone ant wandering across the table. A few moments' search revealed a couple dozen more. I said some rather mean things to the ants and then proceeded to empty the rest of the bottle of bug spray on them.

The battles of the pantry and table have been won, but I now wait in utter paranoia as the ants regroup for their next attack. I'll be ready for them. In fact, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go paint my walls with pesticide.


  1. OH NO!!!!


    You shall win against the bugs. I see it in my crystal ball.

    But for real, war is on! I am rooting for you!

  2. Next time, try pepper! Ants hate pepper! I just put it in a spray bottle with a little water, then squirt where they are/or coming from. Never hear from them again! I hate ants too!

  3. I'm so sorry! I hate ants. When we first moved into our ghetto student housing apartment, I left a single fish cracker tucked away inside Sam's mini couch. When opened up a day later (it folds out into a bed), there were at least 100 ants swarming the couch. I cried. I don't know how I missed all the ants converging in the corners and along the walls. After crying some more to Brian, he laid some heavy duty bug spray. It worked for half the summer. Now they are back this summer. And I have a baby and am afraid to use the bug spray. I'll have to try pepper. Anyway...I guess I'm saying I feel your pain!