Over the past several years I have occasionally encountered a Camponotus pennsylvanicus (Carpenter ant) in my apartment. I usually confront the ant, leading an exchange like this:
Me: How’s it going?
Ant: Not bad, not bad.
Me: Hey this is kind of awkward, but if I see you in here again I’m going to kill you.
Me: You guys are free to hang out in the walls if you want to, but my living space is off limits.
Ant: OK, cool. I guess I didn’t understand the rules. Sorry about that.
Me: I’ll forgive you once. Tell your friends.
And then I would go weeks without seeing an ant.
This week the ants became restless. It all started when an exterminator visited one of my neighbors. I suspect whatever happened in that apartment caused a mass exodus of ants.
I warned the first ant I saw on Tuesday. Instead of disappearing he returned with friends a few hours later. By the end of the day 18 ants died in my apartment. On Wednesday I killed another 10 by 10am.
Obviously a change in tactics was needed. I decided to try intimidation before pesticides. I posted a sheet of paper in a highly visible location with the tally of fallen ants. I got the idea from movies that show port cities hanging the bodies of pirates or posting signs with depictions of executed pirates by the docks to warn pirates to stay away.
It has now been 48 hours and I have not seen another ant. Coincidence? Maybe ants are smarter than we thought?