Time for Our Family’s Annual Spring Ant Talk
The other morning my daughter was sitting at the kitchen table, watching her tablet and wolfing down her cereal like a kid who had taken tool long to get dressed and brush her hair and was now running the risk of missing her ride to school. Because that's exactly what had happened.
Anyways, in-between her mom and I reminding her to, "Eat up, it's time to go," she shouted, 'Hey look, an ant!"
It was an ant. On our table. In the kitchen. We were barley a week out from the last blizzard of April, 2018, and here we were needing to activate the Summer Bug Protocols, which starts with our annual Ant Awareness Family Meeting.
Yes it was time for our annual AAFM. Each spring we sit our two children down and have a discussion about ants. Living in South Dakota, on the southern edge of the tundra, we enjoy a few months of insect free living. Once we get that first hard freeze in the fall, spiders, mosquitoes, ants and the most evil of all: June Bugs, are banished to the, um, wherever they go. But, they're gone.
During that glorious bug-free zone, our home habits often become kind of lax. We don't live in a garbage house, the folks from Hoarders would reject any application I make, but with two active young people, two full-time jobs and a a very lazy cat, keeping out home in model house condition is impossible. So, cereal bowls and cups get left in bedrooms, our crumb monitoring system is set lower, and some people in the house are not a vigilant in their lid closing duties (I'm not looking at anyone in particular, just everyone but me).
When we see the first ant of the spring, we knew it is time to gather around the dinner table. Well, after we take all the computers, mail, and notebooks and everything else that isn't dinner related off the table. We sit the children down and have them recite the Spring Ant Pledge.
- "I will leave no dishes in my room."
- "The kitchen trash is the only place for food waste."
- "Don't be dumb, watch out for crumbs"
- "If you see something (an ant), say something (Hey, I saw and ant)"
A few of years ago, our son was lacking in his his ant vigilance. He had thrown some pizza crusts in his bedroom's trash can. Then neglected to sound the necessary alarms alerting me to the presence of his 238,470 new roommates. Living as only a 9 year-old boy can, he saw the ants, was not bothered by them being in is room, and let it go for a few days. Until he said, at bedtime, "Hey dad, can we do something about these ants?"
Can we do something? YES!!! Where should we start? Throwing everything in your room out the window, then ripping up the carpet, and bathing the empty shell of your adolescent habitat in bleach?
That was my answer. Luckily my wife, who has less of a weird bug thing than I do, simply suggested that our son take out his trash, clean up his room, and vacuum. Then she sent me on a mission to obtain the secret weapon of the Ant Times: those white, plastic things we put in a corner. I was off to whatever store was open. I got them, and upon my return, the room was clean and ready for deployment of the weapon.
The foolish ants that followed their now vacuumed compatriots' pheromone trails into my home were then drawn to the weapon, where they ate whatever is inside it. They took their poison back to their lair and spread my vengeance to their minions. Yes, ants, stay clear of my home. Take you feeding frenzy to the street, where I see a discarded pop bottle. Or to the backyard, where the remnants of a s'mores festival, a long forgotten piece of one of Mr. Graham's crackers, hides from the birds in the blades of grass. Begone from my domicile, you foul, wretched beasts!
So yea, we had to have the ant talk with the kids. Next up the "Inside our out, standing there with the screen door open is how we get flies" talk. That will be followed by the "It's only a bee/spider, it doesn't want anything to do with you, calm down" talk.