Saturday, June 12, 2010

Got Ants? (Part 1)

As long as I can remember, the ants of Wellfleet have made June their appearance month. I’m not crazy about ants but have learned to live with them.

Yesterday morning I went over to the cottage because a repairman had responded to my call after the stove started emitting a more pungent propane smell than usual. Our current cottage guest was in the kitchen, washing dishes. She pointed at the cupboard and exclaimed, “You’ve got ants! We’re not eating anything in that cupboard.”

“Those tiny ants? That’s nothing,” I said, purposely flippant. “They’re normal on Cape Cod. We used to have really large black ants and got rid of them.”

“Ants love our sandy Cape soil,” chimed in the repairman from the floor, where he lay angling a flashlight towards the gas burner.

Later it occurred to me that the real estate folks might have a different take on how to handle the June ant invasion, so I called a few agents:

“We strongly recommend an inspection and spraying to all our owners, inside and out, in the spring and fall,” said Penny at Prudential Cape Shores. “If we get a tenant complaint, we will go over and inspect the situation and have a follow-up visit from the exterminator. When people come on vacation, they don’t want extra company.”

“What does the exterminator use?” I asked.

“I have no idea,” Penny said.

Chemicals, no doubt. This seems like overkill to me. We are talking about less than a dozen ants here.

Then I called Heather at VIP Real Estate, also on Main Street, and asked if VIP had a similar policy.

“Nope,” Heather said. “Hopefully, if the owners are aware of a problem, they seek a professional ant treatment, but I would recommend cayenne pepper. That’s what I use at home. People need to understand that we are surrounded by woods. The National Seashore? We’re borrowing from other creatures here.”

Score 10 points, VIP.

Next I called Sweetbriar, a newcomer to town.

“We don’t run into the problem,” Jennifer, in rentals, told me. “We suggest, in the beginning, that owners sign up with a regular service in anticipation of the ants because we know they are coming.”

I told her cayenne works. And, it doesn’t need to be organic. (To be continued ...)