Tomorrow I’m buying myself some bloody industrial strength ant-killer, because I just had a hair-raising experience with a colony of fire ants. I wont the battle, but only just.
I’m a recycler. I recycle. My kitchen is sort of outside. Actually, the area where I cook and the washing basin is in a room with no glass where the windows are, but it’s practically outside. In the one corner is where I let washed cans dry for my humble collection of recycling in the storage space under the stairs.
This week has been busy and I haven’t been a) at home all that much an b) if I was home I certainly didn’t cook or otherwise use the kitchen. Last weekend I did have a tinned coffee, and there was a Jolly Shandy can which appeared from somewhere as well. They were all rinsed, resting on the outside kitchen counter next to the sink.
This evening I was cooking for myself as TLG had already passed out. Whilst my broth was simmering away on the stove, I saw about 6 or so ants on the top of the can, frozen in position.
I looked a little closer and saw their antlers move and thought wow, looks like they’re standing guard. Then I noticed that the opening of the can had been closed up by little sticks and feathers and stuff, and only one tiny hole remained. “Did an ant colony move into my recycle cans during the week?”, I thought to myself as I poked the can’s tab with a fork.
One of the guards sprang into action and starter running around the top of the can, trying to find the intruder. After a few seconds of scanning it returned to its post. “Interesting”, I mumbled to myself as the little boy inside me became fascinated.
Have pokey stick, will poke
I poked a little harder and this time all the guard ants sprang into action, and rapidly patrolled not only the top of the can, but also the sides. Eventually though, even they returned to their positions.
Seeing their efficiency and how organised they were, frankly scared me a little. These were big ants too, not your normal pissy little house-ants.
Long story short, I rolled up a piece of paper and fire was involved. The ants literally popped as I brought the fire next to it and whatever popped out of it was flammable and caused a tiny burst of fire each time.
Sensing the heat, some ants from inside the can hastily appeared and I realised there must be a few more inside the can. I ran the burning end of the paper roll up the side of the can, and next thing you know, ants started pouring out. I had a few empty juice boxes and bottles around the can, so I cleared them out of the way of any potential wild fires.
As I did this, I accidentally knocked over the thin, tall coffee tin and revealed another group of 6 ants. At first, they were frozen too, but the moment the can fell over, not only did they spring into action, but ants started pouring out of that can as well. Nightmare scenario.
Kill it! Kill it with fire!
I was panicked at the sight of all these huge ants streaming out of the two cans. I don’t have any insecticide. I realised I had stepped in proverbial shit.
I dashed into my recycle room with visions of gigantic ants behind me, grabbed a newspaper, rolled up a sheet and lit it over the gas stove. With the burning paper I began to swipe the surface over which the ants had spread, popping them as I went, causing little flashes of fire as they did.
I sensed the cans were chock full of ants and with the tip of the fork quickly moved the cans onto the gas stove with their openings facing the flame. I could hear the ants pop inside and every now and again a little fire-ball would jump out the mouth of the can. I picked up the coffee tin first and emptied it’s contents into the basin.
Out fell easily 50 black ant bodies and at least twice as many things that looked like rice crispies, but what were more likely egg pods. It made a rather large pile in the basin, and it scared the shit out of me. I quickly took the remaining can and put it on the fire as well. More popping sounds, in fact, the can was quite heavy, so I didn’t bother to empty it out, not wanting to face the contents.
Some of the big black ants had made it onto the ground and were scurrying about. I killed them of as humanely as possible. However, one escaped into the indoors part of the kitchen. I imagine it disappearing up the stairs, hiding and attacking me in my sleep.
“Go for the throat William, go for the throat”, I could hear his little ant pals scream from ant heaven. I decided to chase it, but as it ran towards the stairs a strange thing happened (even more peculiar than the ant colonies in my drink tins).
Rival Ant Factions. You’re in the wrong neighborhood.
There are currently 3 different types of ants around my house. There’s the really, really, really tiny ones, which are nothing more than little brown pixels really. They tend to clean up dead bugs and other little fleshy things like flies and I’ve seen them dismantle fallen dragon flies and the like. This evening they were also working on a cikcak’s discarded tail before the whole fire-ant business started.
Then there’s also what I’d consider normal ants. Black and ant-like, you know, literally garden variety ants.
As the big fire ant fugitive cut his way to the stairs, he unknowingly found himself is Garden Variety Ant’s back yard. One of the ants knocked into him, and they both seem to flinch. The smaller one quickly ran away and touched several of his Garden Variety Ant friends.
Each time he touched a friend, the friend would divert to where the big ant was, and it was obvious that any friend of Garden Variety Ant is certainly not a friend of the Fire ant. Eventually Fire ant was surrounded by a good 10 or so Garden Variety ants, each no taller, but perhaps a little fatter, than one of his legs.
They encircled him and took turns to pull his legs. It must have hurt, because every time the smaller ant lunged forward to nip his leg, the big ant would curl up in a little bundle, the way I could imagine a dog would react if you pulled it’s leg and it wanted to bite you.
It was a bit like a Jacky Chan movie where, even though he was severely outnumbered, the gang would only attack one at a time. While one attacked, the others mulled about doing nothing in particular. This only lasted a short while though, as quickly it seemed the big ant was tiring.
Gigantic Ant? Yeah, it’s not the scary one…
The little ants started nipping at him quicker, this time two at a time. The poor big ant now couldn’t double up and turn quickly enough and soon more ants started to nip at the same time.
Eventually, and this was all rather quick, 6 little ants hung on each of the big ant’s legs and there were also two with an antler each. They were all pulling in their own direction and although I could see the big ant’s head move, he was powerless to go anywhere, as now his legs were suspended above the ground, held in place by the little ants.
Holding him like that, they all started to move towards the stairs towards where I think their nest is. It was all over for the big ant.
Whilst all this action was going down, two other groups of little ants scurried past carrying their own loot of dead (or almost dead) beetle, and one group carrying what could have been a fly.
I then thought I might just spare these medium ants tomorrow after I buy the ant killer, because they obviously keep the big ants out of the kitchen. I don’t mind the medium ants so much, at least they’ll need more than 10 to carry me out of bed and down the stairs in the middle of the night. I reckon that’s how many of the big ants i would take to do that.
Eventually I had cleaned the kitchen very thoroughly and have disposed, in the bin, of my recycled items. Another valuable lesson to learn from ants – if you don’t move it, they will use it.