Ant-i-mimetic

It’s that special time of the year again here.

Unlike some parts of this country, we are still deep in the heat of summer.  It has been in the high 90’s (F) for the past few weeks, relentlessly.

And with dry summer heat in good ole SoCal, comes: ants.

We are being swarmed.  First we had them on our two humming bird feeders.  Since we have about a half dozen or so hummingbirds that live in our yard, we have two feeders up, one in the front near the garage that we can view from a  living room window and one outside our kitchen, that we watch through the garden window over the sink.

One of the hummingbird feeders

Anti-cing

Last week I was looking outside the kitchen window and noticed that our usual birds were nowhere to be seen for a few hours, which is unusual.  I looked closely at the long hook that suspends the feeders from an avocado tree next to our fountain and noticed that it was black instead of silver.  When I went outside to inspect if further, I realized that the black was moving – we had a solid line of ants in motion all over the hook, up into the avocado and in a long straight line, like a column of Prussians, marching from one of the planters that flank our front gate all the way back to the feeder.

Side fountain with Oriole

Ant-eater

First, I put an ant button high up on the pergola that straddles the avocado tree, in the hope that it would lead the ants away from the feeder.  No such luck – more ants arrived in droves and chowed down happily on both (presumably only to perish later in their nests – a thought that does not thrill me, being the creature-lover that I am).

OK, on to the next solution: Tanglefoot (argh – now that is a way-too-graphic name for me, making me picture the poor ants feet mired in goo, breaking their legs.  Just writing about it makes me feel incredibly guilty) a sticky gum that keeps any insect away from a vertical (and even horizontal) surface.  So, this can be used on tree trunks to keep destructive insects from climbing up trees, from soil.

Tree tanglefoot insect barrier

Anti-podal

So, first I cleaned off both feeders, applied the barrier high up on each hook and our hummies were back in business.

While I am talking about ants outside, from our gardening instructor we learned that for the most part, ants outside are beneficial.  They aerate soil and consume wastes, turning them into fertilizer.  So, outside ants are actually a good thing.  Except on bird feeders, of course.

Ants facing road block

Anti-pathy

But! That was not the end of it.

Saturday morning we awoke to see a swarm of ants all over the kitchen counters.  Not for food, but seeking water.  It has been very hot and dry here and under those conditions, ants come into the house primarily through the hood over the stove. For that there are two excellent solutions.

Remember the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding?  His solution for every ill from warts to heart attacks? Yup: Windex.  Not just any window cleaner either, only Windex brand, the blue stuff, works.

Ant-agonist

But, because of our dog and bird, we don’t spray Windex any place that we fear they might go.  Also, who wants to spray Window cleaner on kitchen surfaces – not exactly food-safe.

So, I have discovered that my own concocted sterilizing home cleaner (from my earlier post on tips and tricks) of Trader Joe’s liquid dish soap (I like the mandarin orange) with vinegar added and diluted with water, put into an ordinary spray bottle does just as good a job of killing ants and keeping them from returning (which I prefer – I really hate killing anything except, I will confess, I don’t mind the idea of killing cockroaches – but luckily I have not seen one since I was in Puerto Rico.  I don’t think I could bear them in my house).

Trader Joes Mandarin Orange Liquid Dish Soap

Anti-septic

The great thing about my liquid cleaner is that it is almost totally natural and mildly food-safe.  If you do use it around birds, make sure you come back later and remove it from any surface on which they might walk.  Vinegar is deadly for bird’s feet.

“My favorite cleaner is TJs tangerine liquid dish soap and distilled white vinegar in water, about 2:4:12. Put that in a large spray bottle and use it to clean and sterilize everything except unfinished wood (it will pickle the latter) (of course, it is a great way to pickle wood, if that is what you want!).”

This whole episode then got me thinking about the ridiculous memes I could make connecting all these ideas together into one cohesive concept of the Windex leading to the Greek origins of the word ant and and then “ant” being the Greek root of “anti” and that being linked to the combative nature of this whole anti-ant process, and the word ant originally meaning “biter”, which reminded me of the vinegar and on and on and on.  Then I found:

Click to see the Anti- tree!

And that just led to paroxysms of antimimetic silliness (hence the captions).

Ants in the yard?  That’s a good thing.  Ants in the house?  Not so much.

Images: Amazon, Kid’s National Geographic, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Trader Joe’s, and Membean.com

POST A DAY 2013

10 Comments on “Ant-i-mimetic

  1. Very clever and entertaining. 🙂 I’m envious of you having humming birds in your garden. Imagine. Sounds so exotic.
    In my house WD 40 is the answer to many ailments. Chewing gum in the hair? WD 40. Crayon on the wall? Ditto. Endless uses. And vinegar? God’s little gift to mankind. I have a book somewhere on its multitude of uses.
    Really enjoyed the read. 🙂 x

    Like

  2. Oh, thank you! We have all sorts of little birds in the yard but the hummingbirds sit all afternoon right near the feeders – guarding them so no other bird can access them. It makes me feel like they are happy there but really, they are just being territorial.

    I also think vinegar is a miracle product. I make bottles of this cleaner and we keep it all over the house and yard – effective, pleasant smelling and cheap. WD40 is such a great product too – one thing we use it for is to clean the flat screen TVs. It’s only drawback for me is its odor, but what a little genius that can is.

    Thank you for the kind words. 🙂

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  3. Ha ha, I love the tag lines of your pictures 😉

    I also share in your guilt of killing little creatures. We had a swarm of fruit flies earlier in the summer. I tried my own little homemade traps, but none of them worked. I finally had to resort to fly ribbons. It was heart-wrenching, to say the least.

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    • I am so glad to hear someone else say this as sometimes I think I have gone over the edge :-). But seriously, this is a concern with regard to our global dwindling population of honey bees – when the hives are harvested for the commercial honey trade, many bees are injured in the process, mostly legs and wings being damaged. It is sad and ultimately costly in more ways than one. Thank you for appreciating my silly humor today. 😉

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  4. We have huge wood roaches out here, just massive. And I am a killing machine. No way I can stand to have those suckers in the house or anywhere nearby. We’ve had the ants in the house too lately; I didn’t understand why but like you we’re no where near fall temperatures and no rain in sight.

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      • Hell yes they fly! They’re horrid. I wrote a poem about them once that is somewhere on my blog. I even took a pic of one once to show to my friend who lives in Brooklyn…she sent me back a pic of a Brooklyn rat, so she won that round.

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        • OMG – what a nightmare. I was in Florida one time and spotted one the size of a bird on the wall. I was just cringing away from it when it flew off the wall to the other side of the room. I thought I would die. You know, I never saw a rat in Brooklyn, but as you may recall, hee hee, our neighbors are convinced that we have plague-spreading vermin here in Valencia. 🙂

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          • They are just horrific, those roaches. So hideously ugly. And when they fly, that sound the make – ACK! I’d rather deal with a boa constrictor than a Southern wood roach, I swear!

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            • I just thank God that I don’t live in the tropics because I am not fond of most insects. Why are we plagued with ants and roaches and yet losing bees and butterflys.

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