For the past four decades, I’ve lived on the southern coast of Maine. Some sort of pest defined every one of those years. This year, the formidable foe is one of the smallest creatures I’ve ever seen. I am talking about the little ants that appear every day.
In the past, I’ve battled multiple pests. I clearly remember the year of the voles. These appeared as multiple runways that connected tiny openings in my lawn. It was bad enough to view this carnage in my lawn, but I actually watched it grow out into what little lawn I had left. This pest never came back because instead of fertilizing my lawn I decided to poison it. Hopefully, this did not take too many of my years of life away.
Another year was the year of the “the sons of beetles.” The first thing I could see was the damage. I couldn’t eat as much as they ate in one night — and eating is something I am really good at. Most of my trees had their foliage half eaten off the dead stems once covered with greenery, smothered instead in the metallic colored insects from hell, voracious little Samurai warriors protected inside their perfect, shiny armor.
I tried to shake my trees of them, but they wouldn’t move. It was as though their feet had special grips that allowed them to stick to anything they wanted. The few that fell to the ground looked up at me and dared me to step on them. So I did. I stamped around like a demented grape crusher, and when I was finished I looked down only to see them removing the bottom plates of their armor so they could moon me. My flowerbeds were next. They took the stems and leaves of my geraniums, leaving behind only the red flowers like the bloodied corpses of a horticultural rampage.
Turning to my vegetable garden, I noticed a brownish cloud hovering over my zucchini and green beans. It was as though they were circling for the kill. And kill they did. Within seconds the entire airborne armada had descended on my garden, and I could hear them munching through the fruits of my labors.
In past years, I’ve battled mosquitoes that took most of my blood, pigeons that decided to cover my roof with their excrements, and ticks that left viruses behind. There is no doubt this year is the year of the ant.
At first, I tried to spray the hell out of them. All this did was bring on more. I watched as dozens of the little tanks ran over their dead in hopes of acquiring some crumb of food I dropped after wiping the crumbs of multiple snacks off my shirt. They were tough to kill. I stomped on them, twisted them in my hand, and even used a razor in order to cut them in half. They all survived. My last attempt was to sweep them up into my garbage disposal. I assumed that would work but all it did was give them a hiding place to survive and later reappear.
My wife decided I was failing in my war with ant-land and decided to place any food she was making in our microwave convinced they would attack any food she dared to place on the counter. She also made me totally responsible for the attack on her kitchen. I will never tell her I actually found one of the black assaulters in my microwave. I literally watched it explode. This made me feel whole.
I was finally forced to use a professional spray to poison every inch of my home. I did this late at night in the hope the smell would dissipate before my wife woke up. This worked for a couple of days, but not long after, I observed one of the creatures actually attempt to arise from my drain. I will win. I may not survive into my 70s, but I will win.
I just hope the pests from my past don’t form some sort of alliance that will be difficult, if not impossible, to defeat.
Jim Fabiano is a retired teacher and writer. He lives in York.