How I Became a Mass Murderer

When I was a little girl, ants mesmerized me. While outside in the hot summer sun, I watched as they carried crumbs, leaves, and small twigs back to their coffee ground-like hills. I imagined the tunnels underneath like catacombs spread out under the crack in the sidewalk. Okay. We didn’t have cable.

Flash forward about a hundred years. A colony of large aggressive red ants moved into our back patio just after we installed an arbor. I had always loved these interesting little creatures while admiring their determination and strength. The movie Antz became one of my favorites when my kids were little. All it took was one nasty bite and the lovefest was over.

I didn’t want to use any harsh pesticides since the ants built their fortress next to a pond that supports wildlife. First I tried the cinnamon method and dumped an entire cup of it onto their hill. Unperturbed, they brushed themselves off and went back to work. While I glared at their anthill, a couple crawled onto my sandals, up my legs and bit me when I swatted them off. I stormed back into the house for heavier artillery.

After boiling water in a big pot, I carried it across the backyard. “Die you evil @#!%#*!s,” I screamed and then laughed diabolically as I poured the hot liquid onto their outpost much like Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame only his cauldron was full of hot lead. I just needed the hump on my back and the tolling bell. I watched as their bodies surfaced and thought the war was won, but I was wrong. They survived and not only did they survive, but the next time that I checked, their army had grown tenfold. How could that be? Ahhhhh!

Next, I bought diatomaceous earth which is really just gazillions of single-celled shells leftover from dead sea algae. Yes. Algae with a shell exists; I looked it up. The idea was to cut them to pieces. I know. What happened to that sweet child who watched them in the hot summer sun? I had become a killing machine. My ant invasion had turned into a brutal war and I would take no prisoners. Again they seemed to outwit me and drilled tunnels to another hill not far from the first. My attempts at lifting up the flagstones and pouring the toxic seashells over them only slowed them down for a while. They came back in droves.

One day the doorbell rang and when I found out it was an organic pest control representative, I grabbed the guy by the collar and pulled him out to the back patio. He informed me that ants telegraph to their clan when they are being exterminated and then go into reproduction mode. That’s what was happening. “You have to kill the queen,” he said.  He sprinkled some kind of poisonous ant food on their entryway so they could carry it to their queen and kill her off. It worked!

This is the first year in four that the patio is free of red ants! Cue the music. Ahhh. Tranquility at last. But wait. What was that on my counter? Something was moving on my kitchen counter! Ants! I had little black ants in my kitchen! I checked the dishwasher and there were several in there.  Nooooooooooooo!

I called the pest control company and a guy came out the next day. He sprayed both inside and out. I heaved a big sigh of relief until the following day. A swarm of tiny red ants showed up near my stove. I had just washed the floors and the spray bottle full of vinegar was still on the counter. I snatched it, pulled the trigger, and sprayed those little suckers. “DIE!” I screamed and they did. I was so surprised and satisfied!

Later that afternoon those horrid little black ants were back. I armed myself with that bottle of non-toxic ant-killing napalm and waited, spraying anything that moved.

In a few days, the smell of vinegar reminded me of the combat zone in my kitchen. Just a whiff of that ant annihilating elixir would revive me enough to keep fighting the battle. I made sure there was plenty of ammunition on hand. I pulled out a gallon jug from the pantry and kept my spray bottle full.

Then I remembered what the exterminator had said. “Duh! They are increasing the size of their battalion by making baby ants!” I called him after they waged a sneak attack and threatened to ruin MY birthday. It was a nightmare and now I was really pissed. He came out and sprayed all over my kitchen, this time including the stove and around the dishwasher. He was reluctant to apply the non-toxic poison outside since he couldn’t find their nest. After he left, I poured vinegar inside the dishwasher and ran it. Some crawled out onto the floor where I ambushed them with my spray bottle. The skirmish continued and I was losing hope.

That night I dreamt that while watching an outdoor baseball game, I noticed hundreds of ants on my friend’s back. I yelled, “There are ants all over you!” As I began to brush them off, she seemed unbothered by them. Her reaction disturbed me as much as the swarm of ants!

The next day, I found them crawling all over my clean stove. I had tried everything. What could I do? I took it apart and wiped it down with vinegar. Then I poured cinnamon along their pathway.

At daybreak on April 13th, I locked and loaded my vinegar spray bottle. I tiptoed towards the frontline and turned the lights on above my stove. No ants. I scrutinized my kitchen counters. No ants. I peeked into my dishwasher. No ants! I typed away that day and periodically checked for life. NO MORE ANTS!

When I realized we were ant-free, I did a victory dance! April 13th will now be known as NMAD  or No More Ants Day!

Yesterday, my husband and I sat out on the back patio. I watched as a delightful little colony of small black ants worked in the golden afternoon sun.


Have you ever battled vermin in order to reclaim your turf?

This segment of the Hunchback of Notre Dame includes Quasimodo’s molten lead scene that I emulated.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame photo by Wikipedia

Remaining photos by Susie Lindau

129 thoughts on “How I Became a Mass Murderer

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  1. Mon Dieu! The mental image of The Killing Machine stalking her backyard in a frenzy is almost to much to bear… I am breaking down laughing!

    The Red Ones sent the Black Ones, and they are the hardest to get rid of… I would rather have mice.

    Just remember… this April 13th was a Friday!


    1. Oh, when I first lived in Chicago, we suddenly got mice in our third floor walkup… a lot of mice. We set traps in the kitchen. SNAP… we would all run in to see. One of my roommates was an artist. He drew little mice on the door of our refrigerator (this was in the days before magnets), and soon it resembled the side of a successful WWII bomber. It must have scared the mice, for one day they were gone.

      Susie, you might hire an artist to paint pictures of dead ants… let me know if that works for you… at least, your hands will be clean.


    2. I really did cackle as I poured the hot water. I wonder if my neighbors saw me and pulled their curtains…
      The last Friday the 13th was Hell and this one was marvelous! Thank for laughing with me Ted!


  2. Our kitchen used ot get regular ant invasions. We tried everything to get rid of them, including putting out poison which was designed to be carried back to the nest to kill the rest. The ants loved it – kept coming back for more. Eventually we got it sortt of fixed. But I think the nest was still there when we finally moved house. Hated doing it, but we didn’t really want them running through the kitchen.

    Matthew Wright


    1. They can be awful. I just remembered the time (many years ago) when we got invaded by rice moths. I kept on throwing out food in the pantry. Now I keep my rice in the freezer!

      BTW- You were in my spam file because of your links. You don’t need to add them since everyone can click on your avatar or name and many do. WordPress Rocks!
      Thanks for coming by Matthew!


  3. Having lived in the country for a while now, I can honestly say I try my best detente on any vermin, critter or thing that passes through my happy space. They just don’t scare me the way they used to, on the Discovery Channel. Admittedly, I’ve never warmed up to ants. I’m with you on that count.


    1. I just can’t abide ants and mice in my abode! If there were one or two I could have handled it, but they just kept coming. There must have been thousands of those teeny tiny red ants in the swarm on my counter top next to the stove. That’s when I realized vinegar was so powerful. Who knew???
      Thanks Cayman!


  4. OMG! I think I told you how much I hate ants. Ugh! I’m so glad you got rid of them. I have my own horrible story. But we don’t need to get into that. Yay for the no ants dance. 🙂


  5. This is a delightful post.

    And, God, did we ever battle “vermin” when we lived in Vietnam–but for us, I’m afaid, it was rats–and they were in the house–and the size of small cats. I know. It was horrid! Didn’t have any idea how big they were until we were actually about a week away from moving–this time to Haiti. There things were way, way better–believe it or not.

    At any rate, wanted to thank you for the comment you left on my FP post last week about Tori’s wedding–“Top 10 Reasons to Join the Bloggy Blast.” Sorry it has taken me nearly a week to get here. And, clearly, I’ve been missing out. Going to subscribe!



    1. You sound like you have amazing stories to tell. My little 15 pound Bichon killed something big in the yard last week, but not as big as a cat! That is insane!
      Thanks for subscribing. Loved your post and congrats again!


  6. Oh I am having a similar battle with ants here on our driveway. Last year I came home to find the inside of our front door covered in the little feckers. They had come in off the driveway. I am determined to stop them in their tracks this year before they get established. Have used boiling water and bleach so far……..
    Its amazing how insects so small can turn a person into a one girl A-Team.


  7. I have a little sidewalk that travels around to the back of my house. Last summer I watched in amazement a huge antwar that was going on in the trenches of the sidewalk.

    After about an hour I got crazy and wanted to end it. I had a jug of gasoline nearby and poured it downhill so it went across the battlefield. I lit it from a few feet away and damn near burned my hair off. It exploded and little ant bodies were strewn everywhere. It was utter mayhem…

    I feel ya.


    1. Oh my God! And I felt bad pouring boiling hot water on them! My son said that he found some maggots under the garbage can outside our garage. He poured liter fluid on them, lit a match, and torched them. I didn’t find out until hours later. I guess it did the trick, but I told him I would prefer that he use a safer method. 🙂
      Thanks Corey!


  8. I hate ants!!! I use the goop that they eat and take back to their nest. It seems to work, but it looks horried strung all over the kitchen. And I have to be careful when I use the counters so I don’t get into the goop for a few days.

    I lived in a house where, every summer, we had an infestation of tree frogs. They were everywhere. Every day I had to catch 2 or 3 from the house and throw them outside. When you walked outside you could see 4 or 5 of them jump with every step. There were hundreds of tree frogs. I didn’t want to kill them, but they were everywhere. Our horses squashed them when they meandered in the pasture, we drove over them in the driveway and garage. It was awful. We don’t live there any more but I sometimes wonder what the new owners of that house did about the frogs.

    Thanks for the fun story. Good luck with the pests!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    1. Tree frogs! I would have been in heaven there as a kid! I remember one time they dredged a lake in Wisconsin and thousands of misplaced frogs hopped on the highway. It was horrible driving over them..
      Try the cinnamon if they are smaller sized.
      I think with this warm weather we are having, it could be a humdinger of a summer!
      Thanks so much and good luck to you too!


  9. Haha! Brilliantly funny post – wow, you can write. We have ant plagues during the summer but just the little ones – millions. I share your challenge!


    1. The pest guy told me that one time he could not get rid of a lady’s ant problem. They sprayed and sprayed. Then he noticed that the live ants were crawling over the bodies of dead ants to get over the barrier. Insane! I will check it out~ Thanks Laura!


    1. There are all kinds of flying things here since it is more like the middle of June than April here. It is going to be 87 degrees today! We don’t have pesky flying ants or deer flies thank God!
      Thanks Victoria!


  10. Battling the little black ones in the kitchen for the past week. Thanks for posting about them going into reproductive mode. Now I am going to have to escalate matters… Thermo-nuclear war underneath the kitchen sink. And possibly ants the size of ponies in the backyard.


    1. Hahaha! Well at least you have a sense of humor about it! I guess the cinnamon throws them off their trail since they “smell” where the troops are. Get a couple of cans of ant bait and throw them under your sink. I think the vinegar must have thrown off their signal when they were being killed by it since the smell is so strong. Good luck to you in battling your thermo-nuclear war!!


  11. Noooo….I mean, yessssss! I hate bugs, and I never really felt bad about killing them. I had an ongoing battle with silverfish in my first apartment and can’t see the little bastards anymore without thinking of ALIEN or something equally repulsive.


    1. Alien is right! I heard once that they are seasonal. Another sign of spring. Euuuuwwww! We are so ahead here. I can’t imagine what will plague us next! We have giant snails in our garden and there was snow on the ground last year!


  12. What a relief that you got rid of those ants. I thought you might end up with some new evolved super ant that would haunt your home forever! Hmm, might make a fun story.

    I’ve never heard of the cinnamon or vinegar solution for fighting ants. I tried putting corn meal out on the counter tops. Supposedly the ants would take the corn meal back to the nest, they’d all eat it, be unable to digest it, then die. Cornmeal didn’t do the trick.

    Years ago we had flying red ants in a wall in our house. Talk about freaky. I mean, there’s a story in there, for sure. After weeks of spraying insecticide, we finally got rid of them.


  13. Great story, and congratulations for beaten TWO sub-species of ants! Deep down I secretly love a good ant war (as long as it’s not in my bedroom). My last war, “Cupboard War 1,” had me battling super-quick mini-black ants in my dry-food cupboard. I had to take everything out and then spray the shelves and then put all the foodstuffs back in. Thoroughly grossed me out, and the ants returned anyway. Ultimately, I discovered a home remedy that works pretty well, though it’s more of a precaution than a decisive strike. I sprinkled black pepper along the sides of all of my shelves. It repels the ants, and it destroys their ability to “lay down a trail” for the rest of the ants. Eventually the scout will just go away. I’ve been ant-free in the cupboard ever since!


    1. Thanks so much Veronica! Until you go through it I don’t blame you! When they were coming in by the hundreds, I was afraid to leave the house! So long queen! 🙂


      1. I may have ticked off an ant queen around here with my comments.

        This morning… sitting innocently at my desk writing… one little tiny black ant suddenly appeared over the edge of the desk and just sort of sauntered (do ants ‘saunter’?) across the desk.

        I just stared at him for a few seconds…

        Then whacked the little bugger!

        Dang! That felt good!


  14. Oh my God this was hilarious! I’m sorry about your ant infestation, but it was so funny. All you were doing was trying to save the environment while saving yourself. I had no idea that they could telegraph their elimination and begin massive reproduction. Reminded me of the 1980s/90s alien show V 🙂


    1. I am so glad you came by to laugh WITH me! The only thing I was missing was my army fatigues. I was pretty keyed up over it and wouldn’t let my spray bottle leave my side! I am happy to say I was able to finally put it away……I will have to check out that show! Have a great weekend!


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