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Auntie, I am anti-ant10:39 PM -- Thu June 14, 2007

Augh, the invasion has begun! We've had great luck with ants in previous years here, which is a miracle because our yard is one giant anthill. But they found us yesterday. Actually, they found the cat food. It was horrifying, bowls completely covered with ants. They had kind of settled down after some serious being-dealt-with yesterday, but this morning they were back, apparently with a keen interest in our sink (and here I thought we kept it clean!). I have thinned them considerably, almost entirely through my favorite technique, which I shall teach you. Please feel free to teach me other techniques in the comments (I really try to be non-lethal - I don't like to hurt anything).

My amazing technique is two-fold. The simple version of it is called pathbreaking. All you do is get some soap on your finger and rub it across the path the ants are following. Ants use chemical markers to make their trails, and the soap completely destroys that (or just blocks it, either way it works!). They really don't like walking on the soap either, so it works like a wall. But, like any wall, you need to expand it or they'll just walk around. I try to do things like make a ring around a hole they're using, so the path is completely broken. But when you can't do that (which is usually - and if you can do that, you could just plug the hole with some glue or something anyway!), a really wide wall of soap is quite effective. They can't retrack that well.

The more advanced form of this technique is called sealing up your house. Go outside, see where they are coming in, and caulk that thing shut! Much like with pathbreaking, you'll find they go around and find other ways (in our case, there's a wood beam that runs all the way around the house with a small gap in it the whole way!). So you'll need to make sure you cover a wide distance to the point where they lose track. The nice thing is, you're outside, so you can pretty much go nuts. Not like inside where you need to be careful.

So I've been going outside and upgrading my barrier throughout the day as they get through. Since the gap in our wall is on the underside of something low to the ground, it's really tough to actually seal it. Most of the time it turns out it was just the toxic stench keeping them away, and when it dried, they'd just walk on through a hole in it. But I think I've got them now. Maybe. Then the next invasion will begin...

This is all part of the seven plagues of Anza, by the way:

Plague Of Vermin: First, we found ticks on our dogs, something we have never seen out here before.

Plague Of Serpents: Then, we found snakes (possibly just one snake in two different places) in our yard. That was actually a really nice plague, because the snake seemed to be completely harmless and it's always fun to see snakes. The only challenge was keeping the dogs from noticing it.

Plague Of Wild Dogs: The dogs in question are our own. That means our dogs are now digging under our fence all over the place, and it's an absolute nightmare. We can't have them off leashes in the yard anymore. We literally can't lose sight of them for more than one minute without them escaping. This morning, they actually pulled aside a rock I had used to block one of their digging spots and got out. Tomorrow I'm going to buy one of those wireless fence things and we'll see how that goes. This electric fence just can't be moved low enough to affect the digging.

Plague Of Fire: A sudden jump yesterday to 90+ degrees out of the blue, when it had been a very nice windows-open 80 for weeks. Now I'm indoors with all the windows closed, blinds down, and a ceiling fan going. I tell you, it's like living in the desert. Let's just hope we don't see the Plague Of Actual Fire, which is not very rare around here. This plague inevitably begat...

Plague Of Ants: When it gets hot, they come in. That's how they are. Fingers are crossed for a short-lived plague.

Unfortunately, that only makes 5 plagues. I am huddled in my darkened office contemplating what further horrors await...
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