There is No Peace Treaty with the Ant Kingdom

The ants go marching, not two by two, but hundreds by hundreds.

My house has been ant free for years. Yet this summer’s heatwave has sent them in droves. And they’re crazy. They start by running up drains and cracks. Scrambling around the bathroom sink where they’re no food. I’ve set traps, but the insects ignore them. They somehow know the difference between real peanut butter and the laced with poison type. I’m limited with the types of sprays I use. I have a young daughter and a dog.

The warriors loyal to Achilles were called Myrmidons or ants. They swarmed the beaches of Troy for ten years. Is that how long I must battle?

Brad Pitt as Achilles in Troy with his loyal ant warriors, the Myrmidons

A friend recommended I sign a peace treaty with them. Fat chance. There are only three species on the planet that practice the art of war. That is, violence not for the sake of territory, but simply to show dominance over a foe. These species are humans (obviously), chimpanzees, and ants. Ants will tear the legs off their opponents. They are beyond viscous. As Edward O. Wilson, the most famous myrmecologist in the world, said “If ants were given nuclear weapons, the world would be destroyed within a week”.

Then there’s the strange situation we have in California. I’ve heard people say that San Diego is build on one giant anthill. I thought they were exaggerating. Then I did the research. Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) have taken over California, forming a gigantic super colony. It’s known as the “California Large.” Normally ants would attack each other, but those who live in a super colony tolerate each other (much like humans living in cities). They have millions of queens, but all work together. What’s freaky is the same colony exists in California and Japan. That means if you took ants from San Diego and brought them to Japan, the two groups wouldn’t fight.

When I see ants in my kitchen or house I kill them. Not only for the sake of my sanity. I mean I’ve had to turn to preparing food on the dining room table. The ants swarm that quickly. But also, killing individual ants is tantamount to giving a dog a haircut. It does nothing to the colony as a whole. Even killing the queen won’t stop a super colony. A new queen and colony will come to take it’s place.

So it’s all out war, with no end in sight. Sometimes I feel like Kilgore in Apocalypse Now: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

The horror. The horror.

Tim Kane

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7 comments on “There is No Peace Treaty with the Ant Kingdom

  1. A pest control fellow told me that the ants we currently have in CA eliminated the types of ants that used to be here 30 or so years ago. He said the “only” defense against them is a product called Grants Ants. It’s safe around animals and children because of it’s contained packaging. This product works because the worker ants take it back to their queen and it kills her thereby destroying the colony. I’ve used it and it works! Check it out.

  2. rebecca says:

    We ended up with Lloyd’s pest control t years ago when we were invaded.They spray the perimeter of the house (cat and kids have to stay indoors for 3 hours.) It’s been a year since the last treatment and they haven’t supposedly been back (a bit pricey though) Our neighbor bought a spray that worked similarly at Lowe’s.

    • Tim Kane says:

      Alas, because of shared property situation, I can’t spray all the way around the house. The current bout of traps and sprays have defeated the ants (I’m happy to say).

  3. Good luck with those ants. If it gets too bad, you could always move north where the extreme cold keeps the really bad ants at bay. You will, however, have to deal with droves of mosquitoes (when the summers is wetter than the last couple of years) and black flies whenever you venture outside. However, they are more controllable than the ants. 🙂

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