Ant-i-mimetic

For the past 18 months I have been privileged of not only reading but exchanging ideas with the brilliant owner of this blog.  Now I find myself blessed by the honour of adding my simple words here.  Casting out my thoughts before you, her fellow bloggers and friends, is a humbling prospect as you are all accustomed to Anne-Marie’s word wizardry.  Nevertheless, I found something that I hope will be in the spirit of this site. Thank you all for your patience reading it.  And, most of all, thank you Anne-Marie for allowing me to be part of your community.  I am truly grateful! Beth Byrnes

 

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

 

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bethbyrnes

Thoughtful, analytical, post-modernist, vegan, gardener and amateur photographer, taken and living in Los Angeles.

5 thoughts on “Ant-i-mimetic”

  1. Thank you so much Beth for guesting and for delivering such a delightful slice of life in sunny SoCal. Apart from being impressed that you’ve created your own anti-ant remedy I’m impressed with the fact that you get to see humming birds from your windows and tend avocado trees. Somehow my cute wee sparrows and squawking magpies jumping about the apple tree fade into rain clouds by comparison. I can only dream of so much sunshine and exotica. *sigh*
    One of the joys of blogging has to be the glimpses we have into the lives and environments of other bloggers. Swap you two cooking apples, a sparrow and a few magpies for a week! 😉
    Thank you once again, Beth for helping me out here and keeping my little portion of blogland alive with images.x

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  2. The grass is always greener … in Scotland! Of that I am sure. I take some comfort in imagining the lovely cool November weather there and your apples and sparrows, Anne-Marie. Thank you again for the honour of taking part in your wonderful guest blog month. 😀

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    1. Thanks is all yours, Beth and other guests for agreeing to participate. It’s been such a help. I’m above my target! (So far!) 🙂 I’ll feed my little sparrows and try not to be tempted to give them a coat of paint. 😉 x

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