18 Apr

Today’s post has two subjects, the first of which is ants.

I can’t say the word ‘ants’ without a sort of sneer.  It’s completely involuntary.  My lip curls at the  thought of ants, and if I try to discuss the topic at any length, the word becomes a little snarl of useless rage.




I hate ants more than I hate spiders, more than I hate movies where hot girls are wear glasses to make them ‘ugly’, more than people who make their dogs wear shoes for some reason. It’s a deep and enveloping hatred, developed, I think, back when I was a child and set my swim-suited behind on a swarming nest of fire ants.  Within minutes, those red-mandibled motherfuckers had turned my ass into a speckled battlefield of igneous pain.  On that day I was reborn as Jessica, Ant-Hater, Crusher of Thoraxes, Slayer of Insects.




So Taylor and I were sitting on the couch about a month ago when he looked down and saw a tiny sugar ant, scaling his arm with epileptic little thrusts of its tiny legs.  He casually tried to brush it away without my noticing.

Me: “What was that?”

Taylor: “Nothing.”

Me: “No, what was it?”

Taylor:  “Nothing.  Just, y’know.”

Me: “What?”

Taylor: “An ant.”

Imagine here that in my immediate fury my head turned purple, swelled up to the size of a bloated beach ball, and exploded, releasing the word “AAAAAAANTS” into the air like a pervasive smell.

That is what I was feeling, but because I’m not a mutant, I just clapped my hand to my forehead and said, “Oh, god.  We have ants.”

Taylor: “No, no, just one ant.  There was only one.”

Me: “There is never just one ant.”

And it’s true.

We went a few days without seeing them, and then they started turning up in pairs and trios, scooting around our kitchen counter searching for crumbs that we had carefully washed away, or for some muck that our sponge might have missed.  It was never more than a few at a time, and if they spotted our hands descending on their soft, squishable bodies, they would scurry away into the cracks behind our cupboards.

Then one day Taylor made lemon bars and left the mess out over night, and the ants had a goddamn Christmas party.

The next day our counter was littered with the little monsters, their carcasses swimming in pools of lemon sugar, the survivors swerving drunkenly around with crumbs of the feast clutched in their jaws, friends still turning up and wondering hey, is this where the party is at?

I used up three paper towels, squishing them all, and spent a frenzied half hour prying every conceivable bit of ant food off every surface possible.

This is where I shift the focus of the story to something else.  Don’t worry, we’ll go back to the ants, and you can hear me cuss some more.

Coming out of winter, Taylor has begun to develop an enormous stable of interests and hobbies.  For months he’s been researching fancy cameras and reading books with titles like Nature Photography and Understanding Exposure.  Our conversations have started to feature jargon that I don’t understand until I realize that at some point we stopped talking about broccoli and started talking about shutter speed.

That’s not all.  For his birthday, Taylor asked for an herb garden, and an herb garden he got.  He has been tending to it carefully, using a measuring cup to water it, bringing the little pots outside at the moments when they’ll get the most beneficial sun.  Last night I demanded some of the lemon thyme so that I could put it on chicken, and as Taylor ripped off the tender stems, I saw almost a trace of regret, as though he were severing the arm of his first-born child.

The herb garden has triggered Taylor’s green thumb syndrome. Lately he has been gazing lasciviously at the plants in Home Depot, lusting after cacti and lemon trees and geraniums.  I’ve been eager to support all of Taylor’s burgeoning interests, so yesterday we decided to hit up some garden stores and get some potted plants.

I have to admit that walking through the aisles of gently flowering marigolds and bonzai trees got a bit of gardening into my system as well.  I was suddenly having fantasies of a beautiful backyard with bright flowers dripping their blooms onto the edge of a flawless green lawn, trees with jewel-like fruit tugging on their branches, petunias turning their purple heads to follow the sun as it passes by.  While Taylor was scrupulously reading the instructions for each plant, I was getting caught up in the daydream of suddenly being Mother Earth and spending my afternoons walking barefoot among seas of honeysuckle and clematis.

Let me just stop and say that I only used the word ‘clematis’ because it sounds like an STD and that makes me giggle, because I am ten.

Moving on.

Taylor picked out a few plants that he liked and I meekly suggested a few of my own.  We remembered after we bought them that we had been intending to go to a second store, where we relived the whole experience again, and had to buy some flowers for our windowsill.  And then we had to go to Home Depot to get some fancy dirt and we saw all the happy snapdragons and springy beds of elysium and decided we could get a special kind of bowl-pot-thing to keep a bunch of annuals on our back patio, and then it was another full round of deciding whether we liked posies or pansies and which color oh me oh my.

Keep in mind I was only able to get caught up in this because Taylor had decided to take care of the plants, which meant there was little to no danger of me murdering them.  I could enjoy them from a distance, without having panic attacks about whether I was overwatering or underwatering them.  Did you know overwatering was a thing?  I thought the more water, the better.  This is why I have the deaths of nine spider plants on my conscience.

So this is where we get back to the ants.

At Home Depot it occurred to me that we needed ant traps.  A friendly associate pointed me in the right direction and answered my questions as Taylor stood back and thought about shrubbery.

Me: “So, this will kill the ants.”

Guy: “Yes.”

Me: “It will murder them all?  Their children?  Their ant wives?”

Guy: “Yes.  Very effectively.”

Me: “Excellent.  Perfect.”

And so, while Taylor spent the evening on the back patio, sowing life with his elbows deep in rich soil, I spent my evening attempting murder, glaring at the ants on the counter and willing them to go into the traps.  Sometimes I would nudge the traps towards them, following the unimpressed ants around like a creeper in a candy van.

“Hey, ants,” I whispered at my prey.  “Get in here.  Come on, ants!  Come on.  Ants.  Ants.  Get in the thing.  AAAAANTS.”

I can’t wait to get home tonight, to see if I have effectively destroyed a society of insects.

This is what I do with my time.


Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


10 responses to “insecticide

  1. Millie

    April 18, 2011 at 11:15 am

    AAAAANTS. My first apartment was this sketchy place on the second place of a house with a balcony, and I think there was an ant outpose in the balcony because there was a steady stream of the crawly things the entire time I lived there. Ant traps did bupkis, but spraying them with windex is oddly satisfying, and having a couple of shallow custard cups with a mix of icing sugar and baking soda (50/50) seemed to make a dent in the stream of them (apparently the baking soda makes them swell and explode? I never saw it but after a while they did seem to dissipate). Apparently they won’t cross a line of chalk, either, but I never managed to get enough chalk to stay in one place to make any sort of assessment of it. Ants are all fine and good but not in my kitchen.

  2. k8peterson

    April 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    This was a great, highly entertaining post. Thanks for the giggles!

  3. Kittief Flyn

    April 19, 2011 at 1:14 am

    AAANTSS!! UGH! They give me the heebie jeebies. They creep me out. It doesn’t help I fell into an ant hill as a kid. EWWW…I’m sorry. I hope you were able to eliminate the little bastards.

  4. supesukauboi

    April 19, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Excellent transitions. Funniest part of this post for me.

    When it comes to household pests, I’m always torn between “live and let live” and “get the hell out of my living space, you disgusting little nuisances.” Though I must say, I always make it quick, clean, and presumably painless. You may be an insect murderer, but I am an insect assassin.

  5. sarah

    April 19, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Have I ever told you my ant story? From when I had ants in Palo Alto? I have to say, it is somewhat worse than yours, so far.

    We lived in a converted garage behind someone’s house. It was a nice little studio apartment, but had been rather hastily converted. So I think that things were not properly sealed up. First, the ants started showing up in the kitchen every once in awhile. Just one or two. Little harmless sugar ants. Then, they started showing up in the BED. If you have never had ants in your bed, it means that every time you have one of those little random phantom itches as you’re falling asleep, the kind that you ignore because you know that it’s really nothing and it’ll just go away in a second, instead you jump and start slapping at wherever that place is, because about half the time there is an ANT there. It turned out that they were coming in through the outlet in the wall there, so we taped it all up. Next, they started coming in through the SHOWER. I guess where the shower fixture went into the wall wasn’t sealed well either. This meant that every once in awhile, showering was like a scene from a horror movie featuring ants – you turn on the shower, and start showering, and then suddenly there are ANTS on you that have come OUT OF THE SHOWER. Or so it seems. Really, they have just ventured too far down the shower head and been caught in the water.

    So I taped up the area around the shower and things seemed to get better.

    Then, leaving the house one day, I realized that there was a crevice along the driveway, about ten feet from the house, and it was swarming with ants. I poked at it a little bit, and more ants came out. So I figured I would get them once and for all, I would drown them all, and they would never come in my house again. So I turned on the hose, and started spraying into this crevice. And ants started flooding out of this crevice, all the way across the driveway. A lot of them were getting washed down the street. But there were so many that lots of them were able to climb over their buddies and they ran in the opposite direction from where the water was washing down – towards my house. There were enough ants that it was like this black flood towards my house and then up the side of it, so I started spraying the house, and more and more ants kept coming, and finally they slowed down. I have never seen more ants in my life. Hundred thousands of ants. But they didn’t bother us anymore.

    I don’t mind most creepy-crawlies at all. Spiders, fine. Worms, no problem. Etc. But ants. Gah. I can’t handle ants, after that.

    • Jessica

      April 19, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Hahaha! Oh, god, that is horrible. AAAAAANTS.

      Once in Syracuse I got out of bed and put my feet on the floor, and it felt weird, and then i looked down and realized i had stepped onto a big line of ants that started crawling all up my legs.


    • Glamourlegen

      April 29, 2011 at 2:07 am

      Ant out of the shower. That reminds me of Candyman, the first horror flick I watched ever, which left a lasting impression on my nubile brain.

  6. Vanessa

    April 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Haha, amazing. I hope your ant problem is going better. I had an ant problem in my dorm just before winter vacation last semester. A whole horde of sugar ants took over my desk because I’d probably spilled hot chocolate at some point or something and it was awful. But I, unlike you, have WAY too much of a squishy heart to kill them. So mostly I gave up using my desk and just looked at them and said “uh, hey, can you move, please? Can you leave? That’d be great.”

    I think I inadvertently starved them over winter break. Which was FINE by me.

  7. Glamourlegen

    April 29, 2011 at 2:11 am

    You´re like my Mom 🙂 We have ants ar our summer house, and whenever I´ve been there without her she wants an update on the ant infestation terror Taliban thing she´s got going. In addition to thióse nifty little traps, here´s a simple advice: cinnamon. Sprinkled liberally. Everywhere, especially along counter tops where they merge with the walls (sorry, just got off night duty after 24hrs awake and my brain won´t give me the proper words I need). So cinnamon won´t annihilate them, but it would give them a warning that they´re not welcome.

  8. Glamourlegen

    April 29, 2011 at 2:16 am

    About being all Gandhi and respecting every little creature´s right to get on with his or her life; their lifespan wasn´t intended to be all that long to begin with 🙂


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