A Tiny Problem

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This post was written by Sarah Rees


It may be shameful to admit it, but I don’t even know his name. He stops by my place in the evenings – always with all his friends – and transforms my evening into a frenzy of groans and expletives. That is to say, he used to stop by my place, until I squashed him.

Ants. Is there anything more miraculous and yet more aggravating that those pesky six-legged incarnations of the word “perseverance”? Yes they are marvel of nature, yes they are able to carry up to 50 times their body weight and travel over huge distances, but my goodness they are irritating.

Much like a splatter of bird poo on your collar, ants come from nowhere. All is quiet and calm in your kitchen – the surfaces are wiped, the sweeties hidden away – and you, in your unsuspecting innocence, hang up your tea towel and retire to the sofa. When you return, mere moments later, they are everywhere. In the time it has taken you to put your feet up and contemplate a calm evening, the miniature maniacs have rushed out from their hiding places – those unimaginable and impossible-to-locate nooks and crannies – and laid siege to your kitchen cupboards, leaving no crumb, crystal or chocolate chip untouched.

What you take to be a black line is a battalion of marching troops, rushing this way and that in a perfectly-executed manoeuvre that takes the army from HQ to the drop zone, where they lay waste to the biscuit box (or whatever beloved treat you have left unattended) and transport the booty back to base as fast their little legs can scurry.

I have no doubt that we all have our own methods of dealing with these miniscule invaders, but I have now got my counter-attack down to a tee. My opening move is to shriek like a banshee and lunge for ‘The Tank’; a cloth specially-designated for squashing as many of the little critters as can be decimated in a frenzy of wiping, before they realise they are under attack, retract and abort.

The next step is to locate the offending item – that tiny crumb of croissant or, worse luck, the box of chocolates I had been saving for a bad-day-raiding session – and slam dunk aforementioned edible evil into the bin with all the venom I can muster, furious that these thieves have sabotaged my beloved chocolately treat.

Then comes the enjoyable part: observing the panic. Those infernal miscreants may be sensible and orderly when the treasure is within reach, but when faced with return fire they go to pieces. You can almost hear the scream of ‘retreat’ as the dead and injured are mercilessly abandoned – as are any remaining morsels of the sweet bounty – and they race back to their hideout to regroup.


This is when I pull out my secret weapon, my a-bomb, my failsafe method of extermination that has never yet let me down: I like to call it my ‘Sweet Revenge’, and it sits proudly beside my kettle, awaiting its moment of glory.

It may look like a can of body spray, and the blurb on the side may promise “lasting freshness and confidence”, but this humble tube’s true calling in life is as an exterminator of ant invaders. One short sharp spray and the ants stop dead in their tracks. One whiff of the “refreshing light floral fragrance” and the mission is thrown aside in a desperate attempt to make it back to base, while my can and I follow their pitiful retreat with malicious intent, holding the nozzle far closer than the recommended 6-inches and smiling wickedly. Once the enemy have scurried back inside their hole and let out a collective sigh of relief, I clamp down my forefinger and zap their HQ into a sweet-smelling oblivion and punch the air in glory. Victory is mine!

The kitchen may now smell like an explosion in a florist shop, but every inch of it has been reclaimed from the tiny grasping claws of those minute but grossly-ambitious insects.

Until tomorrow that is. When you know they will be back. But I am ready. There is a spare can of ‘Sweet Revenge’ in the cupboard, and that box of custard creams is worth fighting for.

Source: The Expat April 2012
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