Friday, October 1, 2010

SO THIS ANT WALKS INTO A BAR...

We shouldn’t have been surprised to find ants in the house. After all, I figure just about everyone in the world has them…if not things much worse. But I just don’t like the idea of insects crawling around who knows where inside the house.

These were reddish-brown ants, smaller than the dreaded carpenter species, but considerably bigger than the tiny “piss ants” so common here in Minnesota, often attracted by spilled sweets. At first there were only a few, but eventually they seemed to be finding their way all over the kitchen.

I must admit that, against my better judgment, I’d tried various poisons. But neither those targeting sweet-eating nor fat-craving ants had worked. So now it was time to take a closer look. I decided to start thinking like an ant.

Why were they coming in through the kitchen window frame right in front of the sink? How were they getting in? (Okay, how do you stop an ant from getting into a house with a thousand holes big enough to drive an ant truck through?) And what were they looking for (or, God forbid, what had they already found)?

So I watched the ants carefully for several days. I found no well-traveled path to any one pantry shelf. For the most part, they seemed to be just randomly scouting around. In fact, I seldom found two or more of them together…except around the sink and drain. Aha! There’s some greasy residue in the sink, I thought. But even after a thorough cleaning, the ants still gathered there.

Then it dawned on me: water. It’s late June. It’s kind of dry outside. Could they just be thirsty, waiting for the next time I turned on the tap? I filled a few bottle caps with water and put them along the windowsill between storm and sash, and went to bed. The next morning, I couldn’t find a single ant anywhere in the kitchen, except along the sill. And there, sure enough, were several of them, teetering on the scalloped metal edges of the bottle caps, happily drinking from their new watering holes!

After that day—in fact, for the rest of the summer—those ants have never ventured past the kitchen windowsill, as long as we gave them what they wanted. That was a deal we could live with.
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I’ve always thought of discovery as a worthwhile endeavor in its own right. But my experience with those thirsty ants reminds me, once again, of its practical applications as well. So if you’re inclined to think of uncovering Nature’s marvels as merely a fluffy diversion for those with too much free time, here’s your chance to rationalize your transformation. Keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll save time and money, minimize your footprint on the environment and simplify your life. Now is that something you can afford not to do?

3 comments:

alison said...

Thanks for inviting me to your blog! I really like what you've written. It's very thoughful and inciteful. I'll definitely pass this link on!

Jeffrey Willius said...

Hey Alison -- Sorry I didn't notice your comment till now, since it was on one of my earlier posts! I'll have to be more attentive! So glad you like my writing! Thanks for commenting AND for sharing the link! See ya at "church!"

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