It is ant season at the Henley hacienda.
Typically we do not have lots of ants, but even a few of the little creatures is more than enough.
To help discourage them from entering the house we spray around the foundation of the house at some point early in the spring. We then remain diligent to regularly keep an eye out for ant runs on the foundation. If a string of ants is spotted making its way from earth to siding or vice a versa, whether it consists of a handful of ants or hundreds, the trail will be hit with another round or two of the ant-be-gone spray until we believe the run has been disrupted.
Like I would imagine is the case at most households that are visited annually by ants, they tend to appear in the early spring and stick around until late fall. They also typically are seen in the kitchen and/or dining room where crumbs of food are the easiest to find.
But of course there are always exceptions to every rule that might apply to ant behavior. A few years ago at the hacienda we kept seeing a handful of ants appear throughout the winter, not in the kitchen but the bathroom of all places. Believe me when I say that during that time no one attempted to sit on the "throne" without first turning on the light and doing a thorough inspection of the landing zone.
The mystery of the winter ants was solved sometime later when it was discovered some had set up shop in a bag of dirt which had been purchased and placed several months earlier in a storage area beneath our house.
When ants find their way into the hacienda my wife, Nancy, will frequently set out ant traps, which are supposed to contain a poison bait that ants will reportedly carry back to their nest.
To me these traps are a waste of money. I have never seen an ant enter one, let alone exit one with a carry-out meal. I have even guided an ant into the trap only to have it pop right back out.
This spring we stumbled onto an effective tool in stopping ants - honey. While it comes as no surprise that ants have a "sweet tooth" who knew to what extent they would indulge themselves.
One day Nancy showed me a jar of honey whose lid had not been secured and which had been discovered by a number of ants, all of which were dead in a circle at the level of the honey in the jar.
Initially my wife threw the jar containing the honey and dead ants away. However, she reconsidered that decision, retrieved the jar from the trashcan and after loosening the lid and writing appropriate warnings on the jar that its contents were not to be eaten by humans, set the jar in an out-of-the-way spot in the kitchen that hopefully only scavenging ants will discover.
Nancy decided to repurpose the jar after concluding, based on her observations, that the honey was a more effective tool in stopping ants than commercially-sold traps. Why did it work? Because apparently ants, like many of the people they seek to cohabitate with, can not handle too much of a good thing.