Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ants Go Marching

Bugs are just a fact of life in the semi-tropical clime we "enjoy" here in Houston, TX. Many months of the year are lovely, balmy, flower-filled jours with soft air just perfect for evening porch-sitting. A few cockroaches seems like a fair trade for the scent of jasmine filling the air in April.

August is another story, however, and this August is worse than usual. Summers in Houston are traditionally marked by 3:00 p.m. thunderstorms that both cool things down a bit and send a spiral of steam up from the pavement. We're undergoing a drought this year, though, and so it's just HOT. Dang hot!

The typical summer bugs - little fruit flies, wood beetles on the porch -- have been largely absent. Instead, this new drier climate brought tiny little sugar ants into the house, and they zeroed in on the cat's food, marching around on the rim of the cat's bowl, probably playing tiny little ant maracas. A couple of drownings later and they were still returning.

Occasionally I get little fruit flies coming from a crack in the ceiling, but I've learned that spraying some vinegar in the crack is a natural way to kill them. (Vinegar is basically a wonder substance.) I couldn't figure out where the ants were coming from, though, and I didn't want to use anything that might bring unwanted chemicals or poisons into my home, or harm my cat.

So, I asked help of the lovely folks who participate in the Dooce Community, an online community started by Dooce and Jon, the masterminds behind Dooce-dot-com - the community is a place where kind people answer questions for one another. My friends IRL (that's interweb-speak for "in real life") think it's a little weird to have internet friends, but it's a great way to find folks who have random expertise in things I don't. It's also a good place to debate important issues. The folks are passionate but usually much more civil than in a lot of internet communities.

Anyhooz, the community members had a simple solution for me really fast: put the cat's bowl in a slightly larger bowl of water. Since ants don't swim, voila! it's a moat they can't cross. At first, the cat wouldn't cross that moat, either, but with some strategically placed treats, he managed to find his food bowl.

It's been a few days and I haven't seen an ant since.

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