Monday, January 30, 2012

Ant Stories

In August 2001, I drove to St. Louis with Lilly, who wasn't quite four years old, to visit my brother Jay and nephew Sam, as Sam moved into his dorm for his freshman year at Washington University. Lilly and I spent the first night at a motel en route, and it so happened that Them! was on TV that night. We watched most of it. Lilly was frightened and much more recently -- last year, in fact -- claimed that she actually remembered how scared the giant ants made her, which was the only thing she remembered about that trip.

It had been years since I'd seen the movie. What I remember from the 2001 viewing, besides Lilly's reaction, was that I hadn't realized that a pre-Matt Dillon James Arness was in it. Thinking about Them! now, I'm surprised some producer somewhere hasn't managed to remake it into a CGI travesty in which the ants are created by genetic engineering, rather than atomic testing. Give it time.

In the summer of 2006, we came home from Canada to discover that ants were busy trying to take over our house. Or least set up shop and live in it. I called in professional help and the bugs were dispatched. They were large black ants, and they've never returned.

I bring this up because I discovered a trail of very small ants this morning across the floor of the room in between my office and the kitchen. We'd seen these little black ants here and there during recent weeks, and even some in the upstairs bathroom, which I discouraged with a few squirts of bug spray. But I guess their numbers increase if they're aren't dealt with more systematically.

Most of the ants were following one of the grooves in the floor created by the grid-like pattern of tiles. The groove is a straight shot across the floor -- an ant highway -- all the way from the trash bin in the kitchen to a small hole in the baseboard. Their lair must be in there. Well, nest. But that always sounded too pleasant for ants, which have some nightmarish features if you think about it. (Or see movies in which giant ant mandibles kill people.)

So I picked up some ant traps today, the kind that promise that the ants will enter, pick up a load of poisoned food and take it home to the nest. The first time I ever used such a thing was in Japan, during the first year I lived there. Ants invaded; somehow I found the ant traps in a store, though I had no idea what to ask for; and they worked very well. During the 2006 ant invasion, ant traps didn't work. So we'll see if these little ants take the bait of doom.

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