At first it wasn't too worrisome - tiny black dots moving across the landscape of our countertops. Obviously itty, bitty ants, they were so tiny it didn't seem possible they could become a problem since they were not baby cockroaches, ticks, fleas or any other horrid pest which could cause bodily harm. None the less, seeing those teeny specks scrambling across the countertop was unnerving. Wasn't I a good housekeeper?
Daily they seemed to multiply, no matter the scrubbing of the countertop, the inundation with vinegar Google said to use, or clearing away all items adorning the countertop. Those little critters simply kept on coming - day in, day out. My kitchen no longer was the somewhat sterile, safe-for-food-prep area it was made to be.
Somewhere in time clear sealer had been put along where the backsplash met the countertop in a previous onslaught. Now, behind the faucet, the clear sealer had become black and looked as if it wanted to climb up the backsplash, which added to the disgust of the whole situation.
There was only one thing to do - strip it all off and start all over again. No big deal. It was that innocuous area - where the backsplash meets the countertop - that seemed to be the main culprit. Pulling off all the clear sealer with tweezers left a visible crack, big enough for any manner of creature it seemed.
Sure enough, next morning began a new invasion of ants - bigger ants. Here began a real moral dilemma for me. Having written a storybook with ants being one of the most admired insects, it felt quite strange to stand there contemplating killing these multi-legged, curious, tenacious creatures. Yet, seeing them taking over the countertop was bringing up feelings liken to a criminal mind, it seemed - murderous thoughts towards God's creatures. But I just wanted the darn things gone.
Plunging into action, the next step was obvious - re-grout. Bringing home a 10 pound bag of grout seemed a bit over the top. Calling our handy, dandy carpet cleaner/Jack-of-all-trades, he gave us a small amount of grout and happily, the 10 pound bag went back.
Mixing up the mess, it diligently was slathered into place, the excess carefully wiped down. Then it was time to study the actions of my uninvited guests. Seeing them scampering up the backsplash and tucking in behind the electric sockets, out came the clear sealer. Sealing everything in site, again watching the little guys, it seemed to me they were becoming a bit more agitated.
Now, I saw the teeny guys were gone but there were the larger ones, frantically trying to find a way out of their new prison. Back and forth along the rear ridge they ran. Up to the top of the backsplash and then back down, their antennae searching for clues to let them out.
Standing there watching, I thought of the storybook and the meaningful part ants played in it. My imagination saw them feeling fear, panic, desperation. Guilt washed over me like a morning shower. I knew I could murder no more.
At first, I simply attempted to entice them on to a piece of paper towel. They wouldn't listen and ran hectically around it. Finally, after wetting the paper, it was a matter of a gentle swipe and they were on board. Gathering all I could find, delighted the whole sordid incident was over, I took the towel outside and laid it tenderly down by the rose bed, confident that was a great place for them to start over.
Going back inside, it was a surprise to find more had appeared - again. There weren't many so again, using the now tried and true format, a paper towel was dampened, swiped softly to capture the loose prisoners and out the back door. Friday, our dog, was quite enjoying the process at this point, using every opportunity to run outside and get a breath of fresh air, checking to see if the possum (another botheration) was still there.
About 10 more guilt-driven trips later, little pieces of paper towels laying all around the patio, it was done. There was nothing more to do but wait. Did all that sealing and grouting solve the dilemma of the marauding ants?
Early next morning, pajama clad, it was regretfully noted there were a few more ants - only the larger ones. Three mornings later, the hard work paid off - the ants were, totally and completely, gone! It's been a few weeks now and no sign of another little black insect anywhere.
The whole thing does make one wonder, however. Was it the kindness shown the ants that made them decide never to return or was it they simply couldn't figure out how to get back in?