Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ants, Ants everywhere

We live on a somewhat recently reclaimed field. The neighborhood is around five years old, our lot was just a tangle of brush and weeds three years ago, and when we moved in we had to register as a rural address at the local post office.

Of course, we weren't here first. The bugs were.

We've had a variety of bug visitors, nothing ever too frightening. Earwigs, fruit flies, small black ants. You can't fault them since this used to be their land.

I made good friends with our bug control guy the first few months we lived here. After a while, we finally settled into a quarterly routine, and bug sightings became a lot less frequent.

Then this summer came, with its drought and its heat. The city set a record of 109 degrees a few days ago. The kids and I hid indoors most of the summer, and it turned out that's what the bugs wanted to do, too.

Not just any bugs, though. Crazy ants.

Crazy ants. Raspberry ants. Nylanderia species near pubens.

They are an invasive species of unknown provenance. They don't respond to pesticide, they have multiple queens so if one queen is killed (as in eradicating red ant colonies) they will simply move to the other queen. And they are known for their erratic movements and interest in electronics.

That, and they like food and water, hence their obsession with my kitchen.

Apparently this is such a big deal that even the Times of London featured an article about Houston's crazy ants. Three years ago.

I should be surprised not that they have taken over my house but that they took so long to get here.

So far, the advice that I've read (since my formerly trusty bug guy is not responding to my phone calls - possibly the crazy ant reference scared him away since he has already unsuccessfully sprayed them once for me) states simply to keep food and water away from them.

Okay, that isn't going to happen in a house with two small children.

Fortunately, they are small, and they stay away from most food except sugary foods. (They found some old honey several days ago, but once I discovered that, it disappeared fast). However, I am pleased to report that I now have the cleanest kitchen I have ever had since I wipe the counter down several times a day.

Maybe I was supposed to be doing that all along.

Bill has suggested that we intentionally leave a little food and water out for them and make them our pets.

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