Most normal people have roommates. I have rue-mates. They arrived without a stitch of luggage or a dollar in their pockets to pay their share of the rent.
They are ants. I’ve been housesitting my friend’s lovely home in Thousand Oaks. All was going well until the mercury soared.
The current scorecard is: Human, zero and going loco; ants, 263,794 and having a blast. And that’s after I managed to annihilate at least 48,741 of them in the first wave of the invasion.
What is so impossible about this mess is there’s no visible point of access. I’m in charge of my friend’s garden as well as her house, dogs and fish, so I’ve become pretty intimate with the property. Are the ants coming down the chimney? No, that’s the one site that has not yet been trespassed upon.
The kitchen is painted a most soothing shade of sage green. Now it is zebra-striped sage green. As an overwrought human too fearful to use chemicals even more deadly to the human race than to annoying teensy pests, I stand by helplessly with a damp rag in hand. Wipe, wipe, wipe. Pause to remoisten rag, and the ant assault has quadrupled its ranks.
These are heartless critters. Not only do they refuse to show me and the dogs any mercy, they don’t pause to mourn their kin I’ve just wiped into oblivion.
It might have been OK if they had just remained in the one area they’d originally commandeered— the entire once-soothing sage green kitchen—but they have infiltrated everywhere.
My friend is vacationing in Louisiana. There’s a strong temptation to suggest she extend her stay. I’d take the occasional venomous snake or gator encounter any day compared to being overrun by ants.
I emptied and cleaned every cupboard. There was no spilled honey or errant Cheerios or stale cookie bits or open tins of tuna. What is it these ants are after? None of us, not even the sloppy slobbering dogs and certainly not the fish, are dropping crumbs willy-nilly throughout the house to entice ant activity.
So utterly frustrated and defeated, I ran away from the ant-embattled home one afternoon. When I returned hours later, I was sure my fairy godmother had materialized in answer to my crazed pleas for aid, rolled up her sleeves and rectified the situation.
The house was absolutely devoid of ant activity. Only a few smushed carcasses could be spotted. No more fighting to find a clear space on the kitchen counter to make a sandwich. No more ants in the middle of my Oreos or swimming in my soda pop.
It was eerie. It was wonderful and amazing. It was truly some sort of a short-term miracle, or hallucination, for two hours later they were all back again, with reinforcements.
Glasser is a freelance writer and nature enthusiast. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.