by Whiskers, Matriarch of Mischief
Good morning, friends. Wow! The lionish start to March is making me antsy. I would love to open windows and smell the fresh air but, it isn't to be. At least, not yet. But on to the topic of the day....
As you know Grammy has had to deal with critters of the more-than-four-legged sometimes winged kind in days gone by. If you check out past blogs including our first and Rondo's poem you will find Grammy has battled many critters. She's also trembled and run from a few too. This time it seems she is not retreating but fears it may be a losing battle.
What are these fearsome beasties? Ants! Yes, you heard me. ANTS. Those miniscule creatures that work in colonies to the good of all of the ant persuasion... but not to the benefit of Grammy or us.
A year and a half ago she conquered and destroyed ants that invaded from the balcony. They were cement ants and fairly large. At least large enough to see as soon as they appeared. Grammy won that battle with sugar and borax. She mixed the two together, placed them outside on the balcony and in strategic locations under the fridge interrupting their trails to the pantry, the cat food dishes, and whatever else might attract them. They eventually took enough borax-laced sugar back to the nest and the colony died off. Win for Grammy!
This new batch though are miniscule and proving to be much harder to conquer. After dispatching the first flank who entered through the screen onto the windowsill she researched how to deter them and destroy the nest. Basically, the same strategy as used for the cement ants should work. Set out the borax/sugar formula, make sure there is nothing to attract them other than said toxic meal and then search and destroy any that appear anywhere other than where the poison stations are set.
So, this is what she's been doing. Peanut butter and borax stations are regularly replaced with fresh ones in the bottoms of cupboards, while the powdered sugar with borax in open lids is placed under the fridge and stove, all safely away from curious cats.
Additional remedies she researched were cinnamon or bay leaves placed where the ants appear. Those were useless. The lead ants forged a path through the cinnamon leaving room for the troops to carry on to their destination. With the bay leaves they were tiny enough they just travelled beneath the leaves as though they didn't exist.
To be sure there is nothing to attract the critters cupboard shelves have been washed regularly and all food product that doesn't need refrigeration is stored in airtight glass or Tupperware containers and kept in the pantry. Even the everyday things on countertop - sugar, ground coffee, butter - are sealed in screwtop containers. Leaving nothing to chance dishes and cooking items are immediately rinsed and placed into the dishwasher, counters washed down with vinegar and water and sink scrubbed.
Finally, Saturday it was thought the nest had been demolished. Why? Because the wingless queen appeared staggering confusedly and emaciated on the countertop and was unceremoniously dispatched by Grammy.
How do we know it was the queen? No, she didn't wear a crown, but she was much longer in the body and striped. And quick trip to the internet confirmed her identity.
Grammy read the REWARD poster. "Wanted DEAD with her photograph beneath it. In small letters below the photo it said, "Sudden colony collapse is your reward!"
Grammy was elated until she read the caveat beneath these words. Did you know ant colonies are not necessarily monogynous meaning they only have one queen? Some can have multiple queens and while one part of the colony might die out the others will flourish. These are polygynous and oligogynous colonies. AND queens can live as long as 2 years producing thousands of eggs. Some species have been known to live as long as thirty years (don't believe me? Look it up!) producing millions, yes millions of little ant larvae. HORRORS! So was Grammy's elation short-lived? You bet!
Those little beasties are still appearing on the countertop in twos and threes and sometimes fours. It's time to call out the X-Terminator again but it sure would be nice if we could wait until milder weather when windows can be opened. Why, you say? Well, that particular solution is almost as horrible as the problem.
Comments are welcomed. Let's keep them funny, but not sugary-sweet. No need to attract more ANTS!
Five Cats, Five Personalities, One Goal - Mischief & Mayhem.