Killers or caterers?

We have a host of ants that we’re hosting.

Now I’m not into entertaining, so when the colossal colony of ants decided to turn our house into a hostel, I got hostile. “Ugh! These ants are driving me crazy!” I yelled from the kitchen as I smooshed ants on the counter, sink, cabinets, and walls with my finger. They were everywhere.

“They’re coming in through the crack in the window trim,” my husband, Brian called from the living room.

“We need to do something!” 

“Try Terro, it’s ant poison,” my dad suggested when I told him about our problem. “Place a drop of it on tin foil and the ants will come and eat it, bring it back to the nest, and kill the colony. Put the foil in places you see ants.” So, that’s what I did. I had Terro laced tin foil squares every six inches on the kitchen counter. The ants came out in droves.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!” I cackled like the Joker as I watched the ants nosh upon the poison. “Come to the tables of destruction I have set before you! Feast my little friends! EAT AND PREPARE TO DIE!!!” 

“You okay in there?” Brian inquired from the living room.

“Um…yeah, I’m fine,” I replied, temporarily returning to my “normal” self. I bent down really close to the foils. “Don’t get too cozy there, boys,” I maniacally whispered to my Formica invading Formicidae. “You can check in but you can’t check out!” My Roach Motel for ants was open for business with complimentary continental breakfast.

The ants scarfed all weekend. They ate so much I had to refill some of the foils more than once. With each refill and not a dent in the ant numbers, I began to question the toxic efficacy of the Terro. Were the ants building an immunity to the stuff? Was the Terro compromised? Are ants worldwide planning to subjugate the human race? I can tell you this: crushing the vile beasties with a paper towel is 100% lethal, it made me feel better about the power imbalance in my home, and it sent the ants into a frenzy. “Let this be a Sicilian message to you!” I sneered in my best Vito Corleone, squishing them one by one. “You come into my home and you’ll sleep with the fishes!” You should know, I’m as Sicilian as a Swedish meatball.

“What are you doing in there?” said the living room voice.

“Nothing!”

By Tuesday it was obvious with the multiplying ant numbers they hadn’t  gotten the “message” and they weren’t going anywhere. Well, they were going somewhere but were coming right back to eat more Terro while bringing their friends and relatives who were bringing their friends and relatives. It was an ant family reunion Terro free-for-all, BOGO, all you can eat event. 

Exasperated, I texted a picture of the ants lapping up the Terro smorgasbord to my dad with, “Are we killers or caterers?” He responded, “Are you attacking or being invaded?” He later left a voicemail wanting to know if we were a banquet facility. Hilarious. My dad forgot he’s the one that recommended Terro. 

All loathing aside, ants are an incredible species. According to futurism.com, ants are as old as dinosaurs having been enjoying the earth whole lot longer than us humans have…by a lot – between 110 to 130 million years. Let’s also not overlook their Herculean strength being able to carry three times their body weight. Here’s an ant fact that will keep you up at night: there are ten quadrillion ants on the earth and there are seven billion humans. Look, I don’t have time to figure out what the ant to human ratio is (and I have no idea how), but I’m fairly certain that puts us humans seriously outnumbered and as it says on the website, “Let’s hope they never decide to stage a coup d’état.” It’s good to know I’m not the only one keeping an eye out for an ant apocalypse. 

If all 10,000,000,000,000,000 ants decide it’s time to reclaim the earth from the human invaders here’s my tip: forget Terro. Grab a roll of paper towels, channel your inner redneck, and git on squishin’. (Not to be confused with “Keep It Squatchy.”)

A cursory Internet search reveals I’m not the only one doubting Terro. Numerous exasperated people claim it’s not working for them either. Feeling I should go straight to the source as in terro.com, I found the answer to my question (why is this taking so long?) and also discovered some interesting information about Terro and ant behavior. I’ll get to the answer to my burning question in a minute. Here’s what I learned:

1. Terro should be in all caps.

2. Ants are weird. Some will carry bits of stuff like crumbs or other detritus to the bait stations, a.k.a. tin foils. Now I’ve never seen my ants do this, but according to the ant experts (or myrmecologists) at TERRO, “The ants could be attempting to protect or hide the bait, establishing a nest closer to the bait itself. It is nothing to worry about when you see the ants doing this.” All I’m worried about is causing mass ant extinction and that they stay the heck out of my cereal. They can bring whatever they want to my meal site. Just die. Now.

3. There’s a thing called “midden piles” in the ant world. These are the carcasses of dead ants that have been removed from the nest by other ants and dumped at the TERRO bar. Imagine this behavior in the human world. I don’t know about you, but I’d filtering my Trip Advisor restaurant search with “corpse-free dining.”

4. Be patient. The key is to allow the ants to ingest the poison and bring it back to the nest to infect other ants especially the queen. This brings me back to the question that steered me to the website in the first place: Why is it taking so long for TERRO to work? 

Answer: Our ant infestation is extensive enough that it’s going to take a long time – and it’s probably going to require more TERRO. Speaking of which, I should replenish the foils; I don’t want to anger my guests. There could be, after all, a couple quadrillion of them in my kitchen right now and I’m out of paper towels!

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