7/14/2008

When I am King: Antidote

When I am King...

It's that time of year: there are fresh tomatoes on the vine, the kids are starting to suspect that 'summer camp' is just a euphemism for 'school,' and the ants have moved in.
This happens a couple of times a year, during the wet season and then again when it's hotter than the inside of the popcorn bag in the microwave. I suspect it's when they're waiting for the home repair teams to fix the flood damage or repair their air conditioning, but maybe it's just school breaks and time for a little international travel.

I actually wouldn't mind them in my house. As long as they were dead. But instead, they're very much alive and crawling around everywhere and everything, like a zillion toddlers in a candy shop.

At first, I just put out some ant traps and waited for them to do their job. After several weeks and many more traps, I got a little anxious. Last night, I started a war of attrition, taking out every critter I could see on the bathroom floor. Others would enter the battlefield and go to their fallen comrades, and I could hear the conversations over the mayhem:

"Joe! Little Joe!"
"No, I'm your brother Ernie."
"Right, I knew that. You're hurt!"
"Yeah, I'm hit bad. Go on without me. Tell Ma I -"
[Squish]
"Company retreat! There's a large thumb seen in the -"
[Squish]
"Whoever you are, we're not afraid. Ants will fight. We will keep coming and coming and coming, and eating your shampoo and climbing into your bed and crawling into your nose, and one day -"
[Squish]

Of course I feel bad about killing all of them. No, scratch that - it feels great. Apart from the ooze on my thumb, it's pretty satisfying to strike back at the little buggers. But it's not enough; they just keep pouring in like spam into an inbox.

So I started the next phase of my plan: demoralizing the enemy. I've read that the ants carry off their dead somewhere, to "midden piles." If you create a mess of ant corpses near their trail, you'll notice that the bodies are soon gone.

So instead of leaving the bodies there to be found and carried back for a decent burial, I flushed them down, every last one of them. This should be a devastating blow to the horde, both because they cannot get the bodies back for any kind of ceremony or closure, but also because they don't know what happened to them. I want them to suspect that my house is a virtual Bermuda Triangle, from which ants sometimes never reappear.

Meanwhile, the traps go on, endlessly supplying 'poison,' which I suspect is just 'food.' It's good enough to attract the ants, so that I think it's working and will go buy more of it, but it's not actually doing anything to the creatures other than feeding them. Maybe it's some kind of health-conscious attack, providing meals that are high in sugar so that, eventually, ants will grow obese from this poor diet and need exercise and therapy to lead a normal life.

But I need something more effective than a poor diet, something that will actually kill them instead of just make them feel worse about themselves. I've thought about lacing the traps with Ouzo, as that nearly killed once, but I suspect they'll just leave an awful mess on the floor the next morning and then ask for more.

When I am King, I will institute a new policy for dealing with the ants. Every year, when the swarms gets bad enough and everyone is madly trying to figure out how to get rid of them, we will all go camping for a few weeks in an inter-species version of house-swapping. The ants can enjoy the comforts of our homes and ant-traps for a time while we camp in the outdoors which will be, from all evidence so far, ant-free.

In the meantime, I will also send some ministers to the Ant Council, to negotiate with the enemy. The ministers will be carefully selected from my staff as those with the largest thumbs.
[Squish]
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