Thursday, June 21, 2007

Making A Mountain Out Of An Anthill

When I was a kid growing up on a dairy farm, my siblings and I were familiar with all the insects that flew and crawled around the farm, but not by their scientific names. Common names and sting potential were all we needed to identify the various insects. We learned the sting potential from personal experience. Our sting severity index went like this, in descending order. Scorpions, cow killers, wasps, bumblebees, mud- dobbers, bees, flying ants and big red ants. The last, and the least lethal, were little black ants. We called them "piss ants." We accepted their presence, didn’t bother them, and for the most part, they didn’t bother us, unless we accidentally interfered with them. When that happened, we suffered the painful consequences.

Well, now I’m grown up and I get upset when the little black and red ants make anthills all over my garden and on my brick patio. I can accept (barely) the hills in the garden, but not the ones on my brick sidewalks and patios. The ants like to push up the sand between the pavers. That leaves empty gaps, and those gaps continue to grow even after the ants vacate the spot and move on to another. I then have to sweep up the anthills, put new sand in the gaps and tamp it down, and wait for another hill to appear.

I got so tired of this endless routine that I had my pavers sealed at huge expense. That lasted less than a week. The ants just pushed through the polymer sealant barrier as if it wasn’t there and the vicious cycle began again. I was out over $1000—for nothing.

We have professional pest control treatment on a regular basis, and they use some type of bait that looks like cornmeal. It doesn’t work. The ants in the photo are completely unfazed by the bait; they seem to find a way around it to get to their hole.

I guess I’ll just stick to the sweeping routine. It’s certainly cheaper than all the failed ant thwarters I’ve tried so far. I should be happy that I haven’t been stung yet. And, I still don't know the scientific names of the creepy crawlies and I don't really want to.

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