Springtime is upon us, so I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised when we snuggled up for a movie last night, and there -- in the glow of the television -- a little spider came wriggling down from the ceiling, dangling and spinning right in front of our eyes as if he wanted to be part of the feature film.
"Dammit! I just killed one of these!" my husband shouted, pausing the movie and jumping up to smoosh the little bugger. It was just a little golden house spider, and I've gotten used to these by now, as they come to visit us every spring and are pretty much harmless. (Although, I must confess to an incident during the first spring in our home when a house spider came spinning down in front of me in the shower, and I shrieked and screamed for my husband, who came running upstairs, expecting to find God-knows-what... only to see me standing right outside the shower, dripping, hopping up and down, shivering and naked, chanting "Spider! Spider! Spider!" and pointing frantically at the shower stall. I am not proud of this moment -- but I think I have the support of most women when I say that, when you are enjoying a nice lather in your hair and you open your eyes to see a spider dangling directly in front of your face, it's damn creepy!)
I have learned to deal with the house spiders, and honestly, they don't really bother me that much anymore. The giant black ants, however... well, that's a different issue altogether. In the last two years, we have had an increasing number of huge black ants invading our home. Having small children, I have stubbornly resisted the recommendations of others who have advised us to call a pest control service and have poison sprayed all over our property. So, my sweet, well-meaning husband purchases little ant traps that he sets about the house, which the ants, frankly, completely ignore. I have actually seen an ant march up to the edge of the trap, consider it for a bit, and then turn away, as if to say, "Well now, that's just beneath me." My daughter, however, thinks the traps are pretty neat, and I've actually caught her with one of them in her mouth, at which point I completely freaked out and tried to imagine how traumatizing it might be to actually wash someone's mouth out with soap. (She was fine, by the way... she only had it in her mouth for a millisecond).
The situation has gone from simply annoying to completely unbearable as of late, however. The other day my daughter Clara came running over to me, holding her hand out and shrieking hysterically. When I unfolded her hand, I saw a giant black ant with its pincers embedded in the flesh of her little palm. I was instantly revolted, but I needed to rescue Clara, so I ran over to the sink and blasted water on the sucker, which still didn't let go. I actually had to pry the thing off of her with my fingertips, which still gives me the willies. *shiver* ICK!!! Something must be done!
This, by the way, is a real picture, taken this morning, of one of the little buggers ON OUR KITCHEN FLOOR. It obviously had a prize it its mouth when I snapped this (thank God for zoom lenses and macro... I didn't actually have to get very close to the creature), and it even stood still while I snapped its photo... then I squished it.
I decided to do some research to find out exactly which type of ant we have invading our home. I found the following paragraph in an article entitled "How to Identify Ants in Pictures" on ehow.com:
Estimate the size, if possible. Most household ants are 1/8- to 1/10-inch long. Ants that are smaller (between 1/16 to 1/20 inch) than this include pharaoh, little black, bigheaded and thief ants. Ants that are larger include carpenter ants (3/16 to 1/2 inch) and large yellow ants (3/16 inch). Crazy ants range in size from 1/16 to 1/8 inch, and bigheaded ants range in size from 1/16 to 1/4 inch. Field ants and imported fire ants range in size from 1/8- to 1/4-inch long.
Did you read that? Did you see the names of the ants? There's actually a type of ant called the "crazy ant?" I would have guessed ours were certifiable, until I saw that they had to be really tiny to be considered crazy. I did get a particular chuckle from the description of the fire ants as "imported," as if they are some rare decorative variety that one can order from a foreign distributor for a lofty price -- as in, "Hey, I know the standard around here is the black ant, but we have these beautiful red hardwood floors, and I think the fire ants would really accessorize nicely with our color scheme." The article didn't really help all that much; all I know is that the ants we have are HUGE, they're nasty, and they mean business. (Oh, and upon further investigation, I learned that there really is an ant called the Piss Ant! It’s a real bug! Who knew?)
So while we have been deciding how to deal with the situation, we have been taking great care to not leave food lying about... to clean spilled sticky substances right away, and basically give them nothing of interest to chase after in our home. But despite our best efforts, they still persist. Little did I know that our work was being undermined by one cute little 16-month-old...
This morning I made a discovery. I was rummaging through our recycling paper basket (kept behind the sofa in our sitting room) to find something important that had accidentally been thrown away, and as I was crouched on the ground, I happened to look under the end table, and there, to my wonderment, was a collection of half-consumed food that I thought my daughter had eaten weeks ago!
Now, Clara's a busy little gal who's always on the move, and she's typically known to ask for a snack and then roam around while she eats it. It's completely normal behavior for her. But I had no idea that she wasn't actually finishing her food; instead she's been eating bits of it and squirreling away the rest like nuts she's burying for winter. I discovered her stash today, which included dried-out slices of orange, a large piece of a muffin left over from Mothers Day, a shriveled up bit of waffle, a now rock-hard piece of scrambled egg patty, some Cheerios, goldfish crackers, dried out cheese cubes, and some things that were frankly unidentifiable.
It now occurs to me that a picture of her "collection" would have added considerable interest to this blog post... unfortunately I was so disgusted by what I saw that I immediately scooped it all up, tossed it in the disposal and washed the carpet before I even thought that it might make for a funny blog pic. But you get the idea. At any rate, Clara's penchant for leaving food bits lying about is certainly not helping our ant situation any, and who knows what other pests might be encouraged to creep into our domicile, lured by the tempting sweetness of a week-old orange slice on the floor?
Well, after our movie last night I decided to take a shower, and as I was just stepping in, a nasty black spider literally leaped at me from atop the shower curtain rod. I dodged, but the spider jumped at me again, then got caught in the shower spray and was ultimately washed down the drain, This was NOT OKAY. Unlike the small, slow, harmless golden house spiders that do little more than hang out in corners and occasionally interrupt feature films, this thing was big, fast, mean, darn scary-looking, and tough to kill. Plus, it had crazy jumping skills and had essentially attacked me in the shower.
This means war. Bring on the poison -- I'm calling pest control!!