Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's The Kingdom Of The Spiders, It's The Empire Of The Ants

So, maybe a week ago, I happened to notice an ant or two crawling around in my bathtub. I didn't think too much of it at the time, as goddamned bugs of one sort or another are always finding their way into the house from somewhere. A few days later, I saw at least a dozen of 'em at once, crawling around on the bathroom floor. That was a little odd; I've seen them come in in good-sized numbers under the kitchen door, but the bathroom is in the middle of the house, about as far away from an outside door as it's possible to get. I still didn't concern myself with it too much, figuring that they must've gotten in through a crack in the floor, and that there'd probably been something spilled on the floor that had attracted them. I didn't find anything like that, but I assumed they'd probably already carted whatever it was off, and when I went back in later they were gone.

Yesterday, I happened to notice that this tiny gap where the baseboard (or whatever that wall-trim stuff is called) on one wall of my bathroom doesn't quite meet up with the trim around my tub seemed to be oozing some sort of crumbly dirt. I cleaned it off. A few hours later, it came back. I cleaned it off again. It came back again. And I noticed more recurring crumbly stuff on the little tile-covered ledge halfway up the wall from my bathtub, where apparently some of the grout had worn away a little and left another gap.

I suspect I know what is happening here. These ants didn't just randomly wander into the house. These ants have moved in. Aargh! Stupid ants! I do not want housemates, and most especially not ones with six legs!

A day spent googling in random moments of downtime at work leads me to conclude that these are probably either annoying but relatively harmless pavement ants, or potentially destructive and difficult-to-eradicate carpenter ants. I know which one I'm voting for.

The challenge now, I believe, is to figure out how to poison ants inside the house without also poisoning my cats. But if that fails... Does anybody happen to know a decent exterminator in the Socorro area?


  1. before you call the exterminator, you may try boric acid, cinnamon or cream of wheat. These mainly work best on the floor or other flat surfaces. Boric acid-available at the grocery store, drug store, etc. This sticks to the ants legs, slices their joints and dessicates them. The survivors will stop using this pathway after they see their dead brethren Clean the area where the ants are coming in really well, lay down a very fine layer of the acid (it'll be in powder form). Very fine...like almost invisible. If there is piles of this, the ants will go around, if it's fine enough they'll walk through it, kinda like the way we will walk though a light layer of snow on the ground, but will avoid a snow drift. This isn't especially good for the cats to lick, but the small amounts needed for this shouldn't bother them, unless they're in the habit of licking your bathroom floor alot. Cinnamon can be distributed the same way, but they just don't like the way it smells, so make sure you completely cut off their pathway with it. This shouldn't hurt the cats either, just make them spicy! The cream of wheat takes a bit longer, again, sprinkle in their pathway, they'll carry it back to the queen, she'll eat it and 'splode, and the rest will in theory move on in search of a new queen/hive. I don't think this will hurt the cats, unless you see them run into the bathroom with the butter and cinnamon-Vir may be cheating on his diet. Of course there's alot of stuff online for non toxic pest control, we've had good luck with the boric acid and cinnamon. Hope this helps!!!!

  2. If they're living in my house, I definitely need to kill the queen(s), not just disrupt their pathways... Particularly if they are carpenter ants and are chewing up the wood in my house. Maybe I'll try the cream of wheat.

    Oddly, I haven't actually seen them crawling around in the last couple of days. Maybe they're mostly staying in the wall. Goodness knows what they're eating. Other bugs, maybe.

  3. How about trying DE? They make insecticide versions of it.

    This company is in Albs I think.

  4. chelsi is right on with the cream of wheat. I use it on my pavements and it does work. Like she said, it does take some time.

  5. You cruel woman! Those poor ants are merely trying to survive the Socorro winter inside a warm place, and you either want to drive them back into the cold or (gasp) exterminate them! ;)

    How about this: put Vir on an all-ant diet. If he cleans up your bathroom, he gets real cat food for dessert.

  6. I put some Malt-o-Meal out next to where the dirt piles are appearing -- I didn't figure they'd have a brand preference -- but they don't seem to have gone for it. Maybe it's because they're not actually coming out of that hole much; I've seen them crawling out of it, but it's barely more than poking their antennae out; I haven't found them roaming across the room since that first time. Or it might be that they are pavement ants, which are supposed to like greasy foods better than sweet ones. (It was chocolate Malt-o-Meal; pretty sugary.)

    I did realizing something potentially useful, though, which is that there's a section of drywall that the plumbers cut out when they were working on my bathtub that's just screwed into the wall right now, because I was too lazy to get it fixed. If I open that up, it'll give me partial access to one of the bathroom walls. Not one of the ones I'm seeing dirt from, alas, but maybe I can stick some poisoned bait down into the wall where the ants might get to it but the cats definitely won't.

    Captain C: Since they're not getting into my food (yet), I might even be willing to co-exist if I knew they weren't evil destroyers of wood. But even after I caught a couple of the buggers, I still can't identify them. They just look like ants! Anyway, piling dirt in the corners is hardly a desirable habit in a roommate. So... Death to ants! :)

    And, heh. I'm not sure Vir would go for that. He did try to eat the Malt-o-Meal, though.

  7. A variation on the Vir idea: add an anteater to your menagerie.

  8. That would be an interesting solution. :)