The second part of my two-part post on my troubles with ants and the interesting psychological realizations that came about from the experience.
I am at war!
It is roughly 4 o’clock in the morning and I have spent the last few hours on my knees. My face is a mere 6 inches from the ground, and I have a strong florescent desk lamp in one hand and while I brace myself with the other. Systematically, I scan the beige colored carpet for tiny, slightly darker colored ants.
This all started a few days ago, when one of the little buggers decided to bite me while I was lying in bed. I quickly dispatched of the tiny creature, a speck no more than a millimeter long. My experience with ants has taught me that if you see one, there are usually others not far behind. A cursory glance around the room did not reveal the source of the ant, but I did find an old candy wrapper that had fallen behind the nightstand. Thinking this was what they may have been looking for; I disposed of the wrapper and went back to bed.
I would like to say this was where the story ended, but that is obviously not the case. The next night, around the same time, another of the ants bit me. The first one was a nuisance; this one indicated that there was something else afoot. At this point, I had not realized that the ants were at war with me. However, my brain began churning over some details about ants that I remembered from grade school.
Ants follow scent trails. The scouts search for food, and leave behind a scented path for the others to follow. What if the first ant had been searching for food and when I squashed him, I accidently marked myself as a tasty treat. From a behavioral standpoint, the ants are just following the behavior patterns they have for eons.
In light of this new data, some worry began to creep into the back of my mind. Somewhere in my subconscious, images of fire ants consuming my body were beginning to form. Every article on killer ants I had ever read was being recalled and placed on the ready, waiting for an opportune moment to release itself upon my conscious mind. However, I managed to calm myself down. Or so I thought.
The mind is an amazing thing. Just the thought of the ants was enough to unnerve me. Not long after I had settled back down, I found myself dealing with a strange new sensation. My skin felt as if thousands of ants were crawling about its surface, each one preparing to strike at a moment’s notice. I checked every itch, every creeping sensation, but found nothing. The feelings were purely psychosomatic. Being a psychology buff, this effect intrigued me. However, my brain did not give me a moments rest. I decided to check my bed, and discovered an ant crawling up the side of it. After disposing of it, I decided that I had to find out where these ants were coming from, for the last time.
Enter the light.
As I said, earlier these ants are only about a millimeter long, and their coloration makes them difficult to spot on the carpet. My grade school knowledge of ants told me that all I had to do was find their trail, then trace it back to where they were getting into the house. Plug the opening with some sort of ant repellent and my problems would be solved. It seemed simple enough, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t locate a trail of ants.
The ants, apparently well versed in military tactics, had abandoned the age-old strategy of lining up nicely and walking in single file. Obviously, these ants had sent their special forces to attack me, knowing that a few well-trained soldiers acting in stealth could be just as effective as a full platoon. So, no matter how hard I searched, I could only find about three or four ants at any given time. To make matters worse, no two ants ever seemed to travel the same direction. So, there was no way to tell where they were going or where they came from.
I smooshed a couple of them that wondered out onto the metal air vent, the one place where they showed up clearly. However, sensing that my sleep would be disturbed if I continued my hunt, I got out the vacuum and made short work of the ants. I did not sleep easy that night. Nevertheless, I figured that the vacuum would be enough to scatter them, forcing them to regroup overnight, rather than mount their attack.
The stunning conclusion to follow later…