The Only Good Ant is a Dead Ant: Tales of a Killer

ant.jpgI kill ants.  With extreme prejudice.  I hate ants, not that anybody really likes them.  As a small child I once had the misfortune of mistakenly choosing an ant hill for a good place to play in the dirt.  After that scarring episode, my life’s mission has been the eradication of the species.  I’m sure in the natural order of things ants serve a greater purpose than to ruin picnics, but in the wilds only, not the civilized, concrete society of the West.  They have no place in our world and therefore must be destroyed.  There will be some, well, one anyway, who will call into question my dedication to the cause due to the Peanut Butter Knife Incident, but heed not his claims.  Even George S. Patton made a tactical mistake now and again.

One of my duties as de facto assistant building super at my job is the interdiction of ant incursions.  I relished the opportunity to further the fight against these vile Formicidae on another front.  However, I was disappointed to learn that my arsenal of available weapons was significantly limited.  Due to an office policy of non-fragrance, traditional, and most effective, ant control agents were forbidden:  no ant sprays.  My options were thus limited to a mostly static defense of ant traps.  However, I did have at my disposal a secret weapon of sorts.  Imported from the Chinese, it looked like a harmless stick of blackboard chalk but was supposedly a poison deadly against ants, but relatively harmless to humans (though the instructions cautioned to keep it away from “baby and old man.”  No, that is not a typo.).  The idea was to draw a chalk line across known ant invasion routes or around their “hidden lying place” which the armies would then not cross, thus cutting off their points of entry into the facility.  I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, but others in the office praised it and I did in fact witness ant scouts approaching the chalk lines and then turning back around and heading the other direction.

Besides this import, I had a few other non-standard implements on hand.  A few tricks I learned from my days as a custodial services engineer.  Most standard hard surface cleaners–Windex, 409, and such–act as a nerve agent on ant columns, killing any sprayed directly.  However, unlike conventional chemical weapons which will continue to kill ants who come into contact with a sprayed surface weeks, sometimes even months later, the cleaners are only effective against ants who are directly exposed.

There were a few instances when it became necessary to breach protocol and resort to conventional, contraband chemicals.  Large scale invasions, usually occurring during times of extremely hot or wet weather, required this drastic step, but even then the sprays could only be implemented on the outside of the building or in remote and unoccupied spaces inside, such as utility closets.

For the most part, the combination of traditional traps, hard surface cleaners, and the Chinese made chalk seemed to do a good job of keeping the enemy at bay.  After a time, it became necessary to restock the chalk magazine and the only place to find it was the local Asian grocery.  Unfortunately our supplier had recently gone out of business.  I turned to the Internet to find a new source and discovered some upsetting information.  On a number of pest control forums I learned that the ant chalk was in fact illegal in this country, as it was not inspected nor approved by the FDA or any other agency, and was in fact relatively toxic to more than just “baby and old man.”  My most effective weapon was snatched away from me.  I was defeated.  Once again, the bureaucracy had taken away a useful tool to combat evil because it “wasn’t safe.” 

Disillusioned, I didn’t know where to turn.  I was getting calls on a weekly basis that the ants were massing on the frontiers, no doubt acutely aware that we were virtually powerless to stop them, waiting only for an ironclad casus belli to invade.  And so they got it.  The winter rains came and the floods of water and insect invaders began to stream into the building.  I futilly tried to stem the tide by placing new and more effective traps in strategic locations, but like the marauding Nazi hordes of 1940 bypassing the fortified, bristling, but stationary Maginot Line, the black armies of six legged sugar seekers simply ignored them.

But at the eleventh hour I made a serendipitous discovery.  At the local Home Depot to buy more traps, I happened upon a new product that just might make the difference.  An ant spray in a non-aerosol spray bottle, that is truly odorless and stain-free.  It’s called Hot Shot.  With little time for a full battery of battlefield tests, I ran a quick odor experiment and convinced of its nasal neutrality, I put it into immediate action.  That was last week.  So far it has proved effective.  For those responsible for protecting fragrance-free offices, this could be our silver bullet.  The ants thought they had the upper hand, that they could not be defeated, and while the war is far over, it is as Winston Churchill once said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”


16 thoughts on “The Only Good Ant is a Dead Ant: Tales of a Killer

  1. Jennylu

    Gee whiz, I was just starting to get excited about the ant chalk and then find out I can’t use it. :( I do, however, appreciate the tip on the “Hot Shot”.

    My weapon of choice has been “Terro” — especially the filled plastic containers of it. I get them at the hardware store and they work pretty well.

    I’ve started using the Terro traps also and think they are the best traps available. But steer clear of that chalk, if you can even find it.

  2. Ron

    Ants must have descended from the Assyrians…both having architectorial and predatorial features.

    But remember, this creative and fierce creature of antiquity was conquered. The same will be said about ants…their days are undoubtedly numbered!!

    Well spoken Ron. It is only a matter of time. I’m guessing this is the same Ron I’ve exchanged messages with recently? Thanks for the comment!

  3. Anna

    only you can make ants that dramatic, oh and by the way thanks for the movie and CD, sorry we missed you guys when we were up there.

    Thanks. I’m assuming that was a compliment. Don’t correct me if I’m wrong. And you’re welcome for the gifts and thank you for ours. Did Tim like the throwback Padres hat?

  4. ariana

    wow…very surprised and shocked to find out about the ant chalk..i’ve been using it for a a matter of fact , i used it today on my kitchen counter. I didnt know it was illegal..I just bought some recently at a swapmeet. i dont understand why they let people sell them if they are illegal?

  5. Google Termidor (active ingredient: fipronil) for the safest ant control material I have ever used. It is four times more effective than chlordane used to be but without the health cautions.

  6. charlie

    Active ingredient in HotShot is 26% Cypermethrin, the same ingredient in Ant Chalk. Ant Chalk also has deltamethrin. Look up Ant Chalk in wikipedia.
    When you think about how extremely little ant chalk you need to use and also how totally easy it is to draw a very small line in exactly the right places, and later to see where you drew it, my cynical guess is that the main reason it is illegal is due to lobbying from the makers of Raid et al….

  7. charlie

    Oh yeah, forgot to add that you should avoid eating the box that ant chalk comes in–one of the reasons it is illegal is that the orange and yellow inks might have more lead content than EPA allows!! Presumably you can gnaw off the label from HotShot with no risk of lead poisoning.
    Go to your local flea market or ask discreetly at the counter of a hardware store in Chinatown.

  8. Patrick

    Try impaling a few with toothpicks and plant them around the scout paths. That should keep them at bay. If that fails most aerosol odors become negligible if used alongside a lighter.

  9. Ants make big homes. We can kill them. They have holes. They are small.
    Red ants bite! I dont like red ANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!! If YOU touch them they are bloud.
    This is the rule abbout ants. NEVER EVER STEP on the HILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If you do then the ants IS going to your foot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Do you know why????????? Sorry I dont know………………………………….. BOB BOO

  10. Mcsets

    am an architect in Ubiversity of Botswana UB, in africa above South Africa,so i choose anthill as my concept to influence my structure, i am to build a health post, so in the site i found an ant hill, so thats what i decided, not ants but what they made for me to help me study

  11. ichigeki hissatsu

    The author of this text is a psychopath.

    I know, right? This Ando must be one crazy fool.

  12. Kremlin

    I live in Asia and use Chinese Chalk exclusively. I’ve never seen anyone eating the cardboard packet or the small plastic bag that it is wrapped in. As for the stuff itself, permethrin is used in other, quite legal, products. So quite clearly, the stuff is being restricted quite unnecessarily.

    As for its effectiveness, from two days ago when my apartment seemed to have ants lurking everywhere, today I don’t see any ants.

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  14. Pingback: The 500 – Life of Ando

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