Argh! (Part 2 of a multi-part ant rant)

Zanti Misfits

Woke up this morning to yet another ant invasion and after about an hour of ant clean-up I hit the computer to try and find a more permanent solution [insert diabolical laugh here]. I’d heard that our particular ants, the Argentine ants, were pretty much impossible to wipe out because their colonies are so damn big, but I didn’t realize HOW big till I read this report from UC Berkeley. “California harbors a huge supercolony of nonnative Argentine ants, extending from Ukiah to beyond the Mexican border.” Supercolony? Did I mention that this is like a horror movie? That’s nearly the entire West Coast!!!! In Argentina, brawling competition between rival colonies keeps them from swinging out of control but all our ants are descended from a few that came over with shipments of coffee and sugar in the 1890s. They’re practically clones and recognize each other as “family,” swapping workers and even queens. Through sheer mass they are wiping out native ant species, even when they’re ten times their size, which in turn has caused the decline of the Coastal Horned Lizard (who apparently love to nibble all those other ants but can’t stand the Argentine ones any more than I can. So I guess I should cancel my order of ten crates of Coastal Horned Lizards).

Thus endeth the biology lesson, but sadly not our ant problem.

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15 responses to “Argh! (Part 2 of a multi-part ant rant)

  1. ants ants ants spam bacon and ants! BWAAAAA ha ha ha! xm

  2. We battle ants on a regular basis. We found some product called Orange Guard (I think) that’s biologically friendly and effective. Plain ols ant stakes worked for us, too, hidden in safe places around the area. This is sick, but we referred to our kitchen as “Antchwitz” after a particularly effective killing. Okay, please delete this comment now.

  3. Wow, somebody reads the fine print! AND gets the reference. Gold star for Michael! And yeah, Colin, I had to stop myself from referring to my “ant genocide,” “the ant holocaust,” and “final solution,” but you can’t help but sort of think of it in those terms when you’re wiping out hundreds and hundreds of the critters.

  4. “haven’t you got anything without so many ants in it?”
    “naw, the colony extends all the way to mexico, ya git!”

    In my present medicated mood (only DayQuil, alas), I believe what you need is a speciman of the rare but charismatic Evita Ant. You could build her a little balcony on the front stoop from which she can, with many dramatic gestures, address the hordes of worker ants, whipping them into a frenzy of pseudo-spiritual devotion. You will then have to put up with a brief period of ant exuberence and prosperity involving much flinging of your stolen foodstuffs from little ant-trains into the ant-crowds, followed by a satisfying spate of fascist ant-on-ant oppression and violence which will culminate in the Evita Ant’s slow decline and death from ant-cancer. At which point, half the ants will riot in the streets until they give up in disgust and march off to found a communist state in Cuba (or your neighbor’s pantry) and the other half will die out from despair, being too grief-stricken and/or disillusioned to breed.

    But maybe Colin’s suggestions are more practical.

  5. Jayel's Sister Rachel

    Jayel– didn’t our grandmother put out cayenne pepper or something to deal with the ants? Like around the perimeter of the house or something? At the very least they’d be more flavorful…

  6. Yeah the Big Brains at UC Berkeley said cayenne and cinnamon were both deterrents to these ants. My house smells like a gingerbread factory.

  7. Ha! Yes, Tachel-baby, I seem to recall Marietta sprinkling cayenne amongst the azaleas, then telling all you sprouts to be careful not to step on it with your bare feet. lol

    Of course, she also used to set open dishes of white vinegar on the TV set to kill the smell of cigarette smoke, so . . . .

  8. “Don’t cry for me Argentine ants, the truth is I neeeeeever loved you…”

  9. Exactly! Bwha-hahahahahahahahaha!

  10. I saw your blog link off of Boing Boing today, and was surprised when I saw this posting.

    We have been having the exact same problem now, and had it about five years ago. (We live in the South Bay) In both cases, we’ve called Orkin, and while their pesticides don’t take immediate effect, they are effective in about 7-10 days.

    If you haven’t been doing it already, you can clear up their little butt-stink trails with bleach or windex, which also kills them pretty quickly. It will take the remaining ones time to build up a new trail to wherever they’re trying to go. Repeat until the Orkin (or whomever you get) treatments take effect.

  11. Yeah I feel like the best I can hope for is to make this place as “unwelcoming” as possible. But it feels like the Spartans vs. the Persian army around here! (Maybe I should stand in front of the ants and yell “THIS IS SPARTA!” at them.)

  12. I’ve always thought a pet anteater would be fun.
    We have fire ants here in NC. You have to leave it to Orkin or suffer burning hell.
    I hear ants are great in chocolate.

  13. First off, love your work.

    As for the ants – We had the same problem and ended up using a mixture of pure lemon juice in liquid lemon dishwashing soap. This forms a natural toxin that kills ants. In fact if you spray ants with it they will die.

    BUT, you can also use it to create barriers around doors or other entry points – for several days to even weeks it creates a path that they won’t cross. You can also just use the lemon juice or just the liquid lemon soap… But both together really works well – and its really safe for pets and other critters that eat the ants.

    The larger the concentration of lemon/acid the stronger this stuff works. More lemon = higher & quicker ant destruction. The soap tends to help it stay put and slows the little devils down long enough for the juice to kick in.

    I know its kinda macabre and as a vegetarian I’m all about not killing living things… But ants just drive me nuts.

  14. I’ve suited up (ala Starship Troopers) to go on bug patrol a lot—I like ZAP! brand powder, made from Chrysanthimums! It discourages them from returning, is relatively harmless, and make the little guys die real good in a matter of seconds. Look at em quiver!

  15. Thanks for all the advice everyone! Now I want to ride into ant battle on a giant anteater, wrapped in bandoleros stuffed with bottles of cinnamon, a lemon juice sprayer, and double shakers of ZAP!

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