Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I’ve never claimed to be the world’s greatest housekeeper. It’s just not that important to me. Although when folks come over, I do manage to put all the kalump away and things look pretty good.

However, my kitchen is different. I’m pretty particular about the cleanliness of food preparation surfaces (I admit the floor, not so much) and I am insane about sanitary practices. Chicken, meat or fish is attended to on its own board or only after every vegetable has been prepped and moved away. A tasting spoon gets used exactly once. Ones for stirring NEVER hit my lips. The same for serving spoons. I actually keep an eagle eye out in the kitchen in case anyone should taste a soup or stew, for example, and then use the SAME spoon to serve HIMself. (It’s always a him.) Food is portioned into small containers for cooling quickly. My sponge NEVER leaves my sink and when an item is touched by the sponge it goes into the dishwasher or is rinsed with super, super hot water.

All of this is by way of saying that my kitchen is pretty clean and food is never left sitting out. (Note to A – tomatoes are an exception, because they must not be refrigerated.)

Anyway, at the start of the Labor Day Weekend, I noticed a few ants, which I have had before - actually about a month ago. I always call the exterminator immediately (sorry, to any anti-exterminators, but I am totally and completely grossed out by ants) and he takes care of it before the problem gets too bad.

Since I had to wait a few days for him to come, I basically took every folk remedy and used THEM ALL. I scattered salt on the counter, sprinkled cinnamon, strew a few cloves around and left bay leaves near the edges of the countertops. It didn’t do anything to the ants, but it did seem like the start of really good dish.

Unfortunately, we had a long weekend and the ants got worse…like crawling-all-over-my-food-processor worse. After I stopped shrieking, I took the food processor outside and sprayed it down with this potion wikiHow how told me how to make - 1 tsp. rubbing alcohol and a 1½ tsps. dishwashing soap in a spray bottle filled with water. (H had to go out before 8 am on Saturday to get the rubbing alcohol, spray bottle AND boric acid.) I discovered the ants were just ON the food pro, not in it, but I reserved judgment about whether it could be saved. After I flooded the counters with my alcohol potion and rubbed and dried them, I sprinkled (actually mounded) boric acid all along where the counter meets the wall and along the floor. All this time, everything was out of the cupboards in anticipation of the exterminator coming.

Added to the detection problem is the color of my granite – Dakota Mahogany.

In my worst moments, I told H we were ripping it out and getting white formica!!!

To tell you the truth the boric acid seems to have worked somewhat. We saw only a few ants on the floor. And in my exhaustive study of the way the ant mind works, I’ve discovered that an ant here or there is the scout ant, sent out by the queen, to find out if there’s anything good to eat. He(?) goes away and brings his friends back, so you gotta get rid of the singleton ants before that happens.

The difficulty is that one way of getting rid of ants permanently is actually to attract them with a sweet bait. So you WANT them to come back and then take the poison (this is gross, I’m sorry, but I’m in too deep to stop now) back to the nest and let it do its work. I do not have the constitution to use ant bait, I simply cannot wait for lines of ants to come into my kitchen and go back and pollute their nest. So I’m hoping that option two of just spraying the counters, floors and cabinets is going to work.


Okay, it’s a few hours later. My ant annihilator man has been and gone and, of course, while he was here, we didn’t see a single ant. He zapped everything with his spray and said if they walk through it, they’re goners. He claims that it’s fine to put everything back, as long as the spray is dry. I can’t quite believe that, so, if I can stand it, I’ll leave everything out until tomorrow. But that might be hard. THIS is the worst part. You need to LIVE WITH THIS:

in order to make THIS ant-free.

I think I need a drink or two…I’ll let you know what happens.

PS My LA daughter just reported mice in her apartment. And how did she find out? From the “evidence” left on her desk!!@#$%$ I’m never going to complain again.

PPS As he was leaving, my exterm man told me about his next stop – dealing with bedbugs at a home for young unwed mothers. You really can’t make this stuff up. I’m officially quitting bellyaching about my ant(s).


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Go ahead and complain. I know other people might have worse pests, but I'd be complaining out the wazoo if I had an infestation!

Sue said...

Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

it was one MOUSE..i don't live in a halfway house.

Sue said...

But I worry about you, honey!!!

DebCarol said...

OMG .... I laughed like an insane person when I saw all your stuff piled up from your cupboards - even the same exact coffee filters I use. The really crazy-weird thing is, my daughter just had a battle in her apartment with "one MOUSE", but I'm afraid it ended rather badly .... a story for another day. You know my Mom had a special index card in her recipe file for a "formula" for kitchen pests. And I swear it had boric acid as an ingredient - I'm going to try and find it.

Sue said...

I never thought to look to in my mother's recipe box. I wonder what it would be under. Tell me if you find any other suggestions for pest control.

Your poor daughter!

Phyllis said...

Hi Sue, I'm a little OCD about kitchen cleanliness too but there's not much you can do about ants when they want to come in. I accidentally left the lid on the honey bottle slightly ajar one really hot summer and then suddenly had a colony of ants in my kitchen. Luckily it only took one exterminator visit to deal with it - don't worry, the worker ants will definitely take the poison bait back to the queen! But now I'm so paranoid I keep all my pantry items in ziploc bags (and double bag all my honey, sugar, and syrups, thank goodness my cupboards aren't see thru!) And your poor daughter - even one mouse is one too many - when we first moved in and replaced our oven, we found an abandoned mouse hole on the wall - just like in the Tom & Jerry cartoons! Needless to say, I now have quarterly contract with an exterminator to keep them away since field mice are common where I live! And don't even get me started about the return of bed bugs - I have nightmares about it, I spend forever reading hotels reviews, looking for any reports of bed bugs before I'll even consider staying there.

SayGrace said...

I feel your pain. We got a pantry moth infestation a few months back. (They came in on dry dog food according to our exterminator...) We tried organic methods (they hate basil so we had bouquets of it in every cupboard - fragrant, but no help...) We then emptied everything, tossed most all perishable items and maintained the cupboards in their non-boarding state for weeks... again, no help. Ultimately, we took the totally gnarly chem routine, bought the irresistible-to-pantry-moth bait and watched in revulsion (and fascination) as about two million of the little horrors hurled themselves onto the alluring fly paper... sooooooooo gross!

Sue said...

Poor you, Phyllis!!!
I have MANY jars of honey and, boy, would I have been mad to have to have given them over to the ants.

My exterm guy told me that when he goes to a hotel, he lifts up the sheets and mattress pad and looks to see if there is anything black and peppery looking around the piping. THAT'S bed bugs.

I had that problem YEARS ago too. It's the worst, because you have to throw out practically everything that isn't in cans.

OMG, I can't even imagine the horror of the flypaper scene.

I never thought about the dry dogfood scenario. UGH!

Sheila said...

Bedbugs? UGH! I hope the one on we're staying at has no bedbugs... You KNOW I'm going to lift up the sheets and mattress pad now. I might be on a bench in the park after all! :-)

Sue said...

SO DO I!!!

Emily said...

Hahaha, goodness gracious! You poor thing! I don't blame you at all. I HATE ants. I hate all insects.

Hopefully everything's better now. That would be very stressful.