Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What Ants Can Do When You're Not Looking

For those who know me, they've also heard me gripe on and on about my 'ant problem'. A problem that has grown progressively worse over the last 4 or 5 years, as we continue in dry conditions. My theory is that without rain to drown out their colonies they just keep multiplying and multiplying...a theory not based on any real knowledge of ants!

Anyhoo.... outside, inside, everywhere the ants have taken over. You put something down outside and come back a few days later, and its covered with an ant colony.

Inside it has been a long hard battle. The war wages on everyday. I don't have one or two ants here and there. No, what I have are long, streams of ants making their way inside to any tiny morsel of something they can find. If they smell food, they come. I worry sometime that they will swarm ME some night....

I've tried everything. One year I used two full bottles of Terro liquid bait. Every time I would pour it out, it was like calling in the cows, the ants would form a circle around it and dig in. I never saw any decrease in the numbers. The only thing that finally stopped them was winter. I've tried sprays, bombs (something very wrong about ants traipsing over the puddles left by a bug bomb, and not even the slightest bit affected by it), a million home remedies (baking soda, cinnamon and others I've tried and forgotten). I've rotated bug sprays, I've plugged up every hole I can find. (I live in an old cement block/brick schoolhouse, so there are still plenty of holes!). I've put stuff around the foundations--fancy expensive ant stuff and plain old sevin dust. Nothing has made a difference. Nothing.

So as if that wasn't bad enough, suddenly, in the midst of the terrible heat and drought, my well stops working one morning. I was filling water troughs and hadn't even taken a shower yet. I was very upset, as visions of the well going dry or the pump burning out filled my mind. So the pump man was called, but in the meantime my Mom stopped by my house and the water was working again... huh....

The pump men spent about 30 minutes installing a switch box, sure that was what the problem was. It was an expensive 30 minutes for me---$80.00 plus the parts (total $147.00). Okay, so it could have been worse, I think.

A day or two later, the same thing happens! The water goes off. My Dad went up to the well house and tapped on the pressure switch box, and the water comes on. This went on a time or two, water went off, water back on, until finally the pump men were called again.

In the meantime before the pump men came my Dad took out a bunch of insulation that was in the well house---covered with millions of ants (and I do not exaggerate!)--ants of all colors, sizes and types. I also will mention that this isn't your typical well house---its a very large building that I also use as a semi-storage place.

The pump men came. One of them has a terrible phobia of spiders. The well house was also full of spiders.... I provided a can of spray. One spider elicited about 30 to 60 seconds of spraying. I'm not sure what would have happened if a spider had gotten ON him. I can't laugh too hard, because I myself have an unreasonable fear of spiders. So they took the pressure switch off this time and ..... you guessed it--it was full of ANTS. Yep, chock full of them. They will cause the switch to short on and off. Once they get in there you can't clean them out good enough, so they put a new one on. They also covered the outside entry point with Vaseline to keep the ants from crawling in there again. I'm going to bug bomb the place and quit storing stuff in there and find some different kind of insulation to cover things up, that won't be so messy.

If you look at the above photos (this by the way, ladies, is a pressure switch, in case you ever need to know! ;-) you can see gobs of little orangey things--that's some of the remaining ants. Many of them were knocked out before I took the picture. All said and done, the ants cost me over $200 and lots of worry. I am thankful though that my well and pump seem to be fine.

I guess this falls under the 'who would have thought' catagory!

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