Confinement Day 40 :: the ants have moved in

There’s a kind of madness in the deluge submerging home life. Everything is moved around as we try and sort a sleeping space for my dad and that’s stuck on hold as the blimmin Argos bed seems defective and assembly is taking days. We are sleeping on makeshift mattresses on the living room floor. Bags of food and stuff from the outside build up as they decontaminate and I work my way through washing them safely. I wake up everyday to the noisy crackle of dad listening to his old school radio and fiddling around the radio spectrum. Huge chunks of the rest of the day are filled with noisy crash-bang of little one’s cartoons – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie seems to get played at least once a day. However, what was initially a cause of frustration at the beginning of isolation has now become oddly comforting: ants have found a way into our flat and seem to find it comfortable here. The ants have moved in.

At the beginning of isolation, there were way too many. The tipping point being finding whole multiple lines of them climbing up the plastic folds in the seal around the freezer door, making their way determinedly to the fridge. Presumably they find their way into the flat through the holes that the mice used to get into – something the landlord/managing agent has been aware of for many months, but sorting anything seems to takes an age.

Little one was super happy as he always wanted a pet and he christened them his ‘ant friends’. Ants and ant colonies have been popping up in my work for years (a key example of collective intelligence and a recurring metaphor in transformative grassroots culture), so I’m always happy to see them and don’t want to kill them. However, ant armies marching on the fridge and swarming in the food cupboards, under the modem, all around the bathroom and spreading further into the flat every day… well that’s not going to fly.

Regular ant traps (as recommended by the managing agent, to be purchased by me) are actually a horrible thing. Ants take the poison back to the nest and it kills the whole nest. I just can’t do that. Apparently many ant species in the UK are endangered. So thanks to one of my trusty Facebook groups, I tried working out other solutions. Salt, baking soda and chalk lines didn’t seem to do much. Ants are supposed to hate walking over powder, and although they seemed put off initially, after a while I saw them boldly march over powdery hills of baking soda without a problem.

Eventually, I found out what worked: clearing away the pheromone trails and applying more scents to deter ants and counteract any remaining pheromones. The scents I found that seem to work: mint mouthwash diluted in spray bottle; olbas oil deposited in mini cups in key places (food cupboards etc) and oblas oil droplets directly applied to surface (not directly on ants) as emergency hardcore solution. Pheromones are really interesting. I kept imagining the soles of my feet covered with ant pheromones, which made me wash my feet thoroughly before getting into bed (when we had a bed! :-)). However, I have to admit I did splat a few ants – hopefully justifiable if that means whole nest survives.

The ants seemed to virtually disappear but they are back again now. Probably because I’ve less time for cleaning with this never-ending blimmin bed assembly. This morning I went into the kitchen and there they were. A few little ants ambling around. Doing their endless work, searching and discovering. I like the ant energy and I feel like I have some friends in them alongside my endless domestic work. Gotta run as family life calls.

Love to our ant friends.

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