What’s a poor ant to do when your tunnel is flooded from record rainfall? You move your immediate family and all your relatives to high ground, that’s what. Preferably one with food and shelter. A nice house on a hill would work. And that’s what every ant in Osage County did. Guess whose house? If you said the one with the cat food bowls sitting around on the floor, congrats, you’re a winner. Not just a few ants either. We’re talking streams of ants, black, creepy crawly ants, antennae quivering. Multiple lanes of ant traffic looking like an LA freeway at rush hour.
First step was to reduce the dining hours of the cats. No longer could they take a few bites, have a nap, and return for leftovers. Bowls were snatched off the floor, in the sink, and rinsed before the kitties could finish licking their lips. That helped, but not much. I hadn’t counted on the pheromones. To quote from Wikipedia
Trail pheromones are semiochemicals secreted from the body of an individual to impact the behavior of another individual receiving it. Trail pheromones often serve as a multi purpose chemical secretion in which, it leads members of its own species towards a food source, while representing a territorial mark in the form of an allomone to organisms outside of their species.
What that means is that the little bastards tell their buddies where the chow is. If the food disappears, the pheromones are still there. “Come on in, boys. They picked up the dishes, but we’ll find something.”
I used Ortho Home Defense Ant Spray until I was practically wading in the stuff. But, it was a temporary fix and not without repercussions. “My cats will walk in that stuff and get poisoned.” I smiled. Bad move. No more Ortho in the house.
Next, I went to an ant bait. You cut a small hole in the bait big enough for ants, but too small for kitties. It worked. Boy, did it work. The pheromone trail was flashing neon. What was once a small stream of ants, now looked like the Arkansas River at flood stage. Couldn’t handle it. Tossed the bait outside, locked the cats in the garage, and hosed the place down with Ortho until the fumes wilted the flowers. Two days later the ants were back.
I changed tactics. I would fight the little buggers outside, before they got inside. Seemed logical. More bait traps. More Ortho. Killed a few, several in fact. Then the ants called for reinforcements, the A team, a tougher battle-hardened ant, a mutant species that could chew up poison and spit it in your face kind of ant. I switched to Ant Granules. Creates an ant barrier, it said. Sprinkle it around the foundation and turn them away, it said. The ants made little mounds with it: sand piles for their kids to play in.
I began to follow the pheromone trails and found a few teeny, tiny cracks in the mortar between the bricks. Aha. The entry point, or should I say points? Caulked the cracks, mixed a little Ortho with it, and…and…improvement, a bunch. Has the tide turned? Too early to tell, but confidence is high.
Then, while I was doing my happy dance, I happened to notice my hummingbird feeder. The sugar water had dozens of black corpses with hordes of suicide ants lined up to join them. A hummer will not drink from an ant invested feeder. Can’t blame them. I have what they call an ant moat. What you do is fill it with water and hang it between the hook and the nectar. Unless the ants have inflatable rafts (and some of mine do) they won’t cross the water. One tiny little problem with the moat. With the wind and heat in Oklahoma, the water in the moat lasts for oh, about 37 minutes. All the ants do is wait around at the beach, dip their toes in to stay cool, and wait for the tide to go out.
I Googled ants-hummingbirds-feeder. Possible solutions were: Get an ant moat (silly people), rub Vaseline on the hook (really?), place a clothes dryer sheet around the support rod (you got to be shittin’ me), place double sided sticky tape on the rod (hmmm), fill the moat with WD-40 (interesting), and lastly, place a bait trap below the feeder to satisfy the most finicky of the order Hymenoptera (I liked that one.) In fact, I liked them all. And used them all…with a twist. I topped off the WD-40 with a floating layer of Ortho. Couldn’t resist. Hee, hee.
Watch this space.