What Bugs (#338)

My Chinese American husband doesn’t see dirt. At least, not in our house. He’s got a whole dirt manufacturing thing going on in our yard with multiple compost piles, but can he spot an errant leaf or Lego on the floor and pick it up? Haha, no. Not even after he’s experienced multiple late-night Lego fire walks into our son’s bedroom.

Back when we were dating, Andy would get mad about his roommate leaving crumbs on the kitchen counter.

Now that we’re married? Andy leaves crumbs on the kitchen counter.

He says he wipes down the counter.

I say, “Really? Because that ant right there is running off with a crumb from your sandwich and he’s going to share the joyful news with the rest of the colony and they’re all going to come running.”

Andy: “What ant?”

I squish the ant with a Clorox wipe and hold it in front of his face. “THIS ant. How can you not see this ant?!”

“Our kitchen counter is black! The ant is black!

Our kitchen counter, reflecting the afternoon sunlight.

“The counter is MARBLED black and white. Our cabinets are WHITE. How is it you never see these suckers and I have to kill them all?!”

Andy shrugs.

At least twice a year, usually when it’s hot and dry, the ants send scouts into our house. If we’re lucky, I spot and kill them before they find the honey in the pantry or the cat food on the dryer. If we’re not lucky, I have to clean out the entire pantry and kill ants for days. And if we’re really unlucky? They set up an entire colony under a fallen black sweatshirt in the hall closet (true story).

I don’t know if it’s the drought or the fact that the city cut down our old trees and ground up the roots, but lately the ants have been relentless. They’re attacking on multiple fronts: kitchen, dining room, living room, laundry room, and bathroom. The ones in the living room found an old potato chip in Andy’s recliner. If we were wealthy, I’d’ve burned it and replaced it. As it was, I had to take the chair apart, vacuum it, and wipe it down. Repeatedly.

The kitchen ants are the worst, though. I’ve spent the last few weeks fending them off. I sweep, vacuum, and clean counters, trying to make sure there are no enticing food bits.

Undoubtedly, some readers are wondering why the hell we don’t try poison.

First, I’m not a fan of any poison in any biome. Second, we have pets that can get into every nook and cranny and cabinet in the house as well as under the house. Some of these pets think everything is edible. Others think everything is a toy.

So I remind Andy to look for ants in the morning when he gets up before I do. He says, “Sure.”

It’s Monday at 5 AM.  Andy’s in the bathroom when I turn on the kitchen’s overhead lights. I see ants on the counter next to his half-full coffee mug. I kill the ants, then open drawers and cabinets to see where they are coming from. I discover a line of ants under the kitchen sink. I kill more ants, grumbling to the dog about certain blind persons in the house.

That night, I tell Andy that maybe, just maybe, light would help him see ants when it’s dark. I refrain from telling him I’m convinced he’s deliberately not turning on the lights in order to not see the ants because he doesn’t want to have to deal with ants. I remind myself that even before the recent invasion, Andy preferred to blunder about in the dark and the cold rather than pay any utility company more money.

The next morning, Andy’s up first. He leaves me a cup of coffee on the counter. By the dim nightlight on the stove hood, I see an ant crawling around next to my mug. It’s just one of many I have to kill, including some making a concerted foray into the pantry.

Ant scout in the pantry.

Andy is still in the bathroom when I leave with the dog. Fuming.

I fume all day. I kill straggler and scout ants all day. That night, I update Andy on the ant carnage tally, including the one right next to the cup of coffee he poured for me mere minutes before I entered the kitchen.

He argues, “But I looked! I didn’t see any ants!”

“I don’t know how you could have missed them, unless you weren’t really looking.”

Andy is offended. Then adamant. “I did a good job! I was looking!”

“Did you turn on the lights?!”

“I used a flashlight!”

“You—a flash—I just—” I throw up my hands and leave the room.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Or turn on a light.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

27 thoughts on “What Bugs (#338)”

  1. I absolutely detest ants…and have a phobia about them. True story. I had a bad childhood experience with ants that scarred me for life. As a result, I’m a bit of a pro on ridding your house of them. The ant traps where they take bait and bring it back to the nest work great (and I’ve never had issues having them around cats), but if you don’t want poison, try baby powder. Sprinkle it around the perimeter and it’ll keep them away. Works like a charm every time!

    1. I’m not surprised baby powder works–Johnson & Johnson is currently employing a variety of legal tricks to avoid paying a massive class action settlement for the carcinogens in their baby powder.

  2. I have a game with the ants. I have to keep moving the cat food. I put it down and pick it up as soon as the cats are done eating (mostly). I had two safe places they never found until yesterday. Now I have one. Argh! It’s not hot and dry here but they come in anyway. Usually spring and fall. I think we are listed in the Michelin Guide for fine dining.

        1. I must disagree, I think not seeing bugs is a personality thing, since I see them quite easily vs. the rest of my family. I have to lean toward the SCAM in Autumn’s case though…using a flashlight does not demonstrate good financial sense when turning on a light is far cheaper than using a battery that should be saved for emergencies.

  3. I haven’t had any an problem, but we did find quite a few baby snails in the patio when I was replanting some pots.

    I’m a medium in the clean-house department–clean in comparison to daughter #2, but not so clean compared to #3. Daughter #3 was visiting last week, and she gave me instructions on how to keep the inside of my washing machine cleaner. But since I don’t have any ants, I figure I’m doing okay. It’s easier when you don’t have pets.

    1. Pets and boys seem to be a magnets for dirt and bugs, that’s for sure. One of Baby D’s friends left a piece of maple sugar candy under Baby D’s bed. The ants found it long before we did.

  4. I detest ants. They seem dirty to me and their little feet moving across my kitchen counter would amount to war. While your husband is frugal and that is good, you might want to mention that if ants build outside around the base of your house sometimes termites follow them… and then you have structural issues that are very expensive to repair.

  5. My husband doesn’t see things like that either. Several years ago when we still received a daily newspaper (gasp!) I got tired of being the one always moving it from where he left it on the dining room table to the recycle bin. I decided to wait and see how long it would take for him to notice. I gave up after 3 weeks when we had a teetering stack of newspaper on the table.‍♀️

  6. Joburg ants are also relentless — they can really take over of you let them — so I feel your pain. The only thing that works for me are the plastic poison ant traps (I also don’t like them but sometimes one gets desperate), and luckily my cats have never been interested in them.

  7. I was always pretty relaxed about ants and every other creepy crawlie when living in the tropics, but back here in the UK, not so much. We had one ant attack when we first moved here but fortunately none since. As we don’t have pets, it was an easy fix, but I dread to think how we’d have stopped the rot otherwise.

    But yes, Himself does not see dirt. He is freaky about disorder and mess, but dirt – nope!

  8. Wow! I think for once, I’m more like Andy. My husband is the one who always spots the ants and I’m the one who is looking around blindly… although, I must admit, I at least turn on the lights to look for ants!!

    We always used to have ants, but perhaps I was oblivious to how bad it was until we got the cat. They swarm around the cat food and it really sucks… we try to move the cat food and try all sorts of tricks but it doesn’t work. My friend said she asks a pro to kill ant nests twice per year. Maybe that’s the solution… but I haven’t brought myself to pay for it yet lol.

    1. I think in temperate rainforest areas, the ants are way worse. Summers in New Hampshire the ants were unstoppable. It almost made you want winter back. And at least we don’t have fire ants like Texas!

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