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Small Talk: House and buggy

Welcome to Wild Kingdom, more commonly known as my kitchen.

Actually, the problem is not limited to my kitchen, but that is where the largest migration is now taking place.

It seems I rejoiced prematurely about all the lovely rain we had last year. That same rain was the signal for every insect native to this area to go forth and multiply, and then drop by my house for lunch.

It has been a couple of years since they breached what I thought was a clear and fair understanding. In short, if they stayed outside and basically out of sight, they were allowed to live. If they were foolish enough to wander past my threshold and into my line of vision (or the path of my vacuum hose), they died. Firm yet fair, I thought.

Until recently it was only the occasional moth and a handful of spiders in the corners of the ceilings, but it seems there has been a breakdown between the insect elders with whom I hammered out this agreement and the wave of young rebels hatched more recently.

My house looks like a scene from a classic horror film, with cobwebs dripping from everywhere, yet I vacuum up webs and spiders on a regular basis. Then the ants have begun visiting in our upstairs bathroom. I scattered body powder at their entry points and the next morning, I woke up to find I was serving breakfast for 6,000 in the kitchen. The ants went marching one by one into my kitchen pantry.

I spent two days vacuuming up reappearing ants. I kept hoping they would go away voluntarily after such an inhospitable welcome, but no. I have sprinkled powder around the windows but I now suspect that the entire west wall of my house is a giant ant farm. I also suspect that since all my neighbors can afford monthly exterminators, our house and yard are known among local insects as a safe haven. I know if I looked really closely, I would see them carrying little overnight cases.

Sadly, ants are smart enough to realize that when the scout I squashed doesn’t come home, it’s time to send in the infantry. And they are relentless. I wonder if I could call in a tutor and train them to do simple, household chores?

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who is not fond of small things that crawl. Contact her at [email protected]