21st Century Ants

Several months ago, I expressed in a blog the trouble Ecuador was encountering with the long draught that we experienced.  We hardly had any rain during our “rainy season” and that was causing our hydro-electric plant to be stressed to the point that it could not handle the output of electricity to the country.  We had several months of electric rations to help prevent our plant from being depleted of its resources. 

In the past month, we’ve suddenly begun to see the rainy season that had been missing for so long.  It usually rains every day.

This has been very good for the hydroelectric plant.  However, it has not been pleasant for certain household who saw a sudden increase in their ant population.  Our home was one of those.  Suddenly, I began to see ants crawling around the kitchen.  But the main population was starting to show up in our bathroom.  That was a mystery to me.  Why would ants gravitate toward a room that had no food in it?  I wanted to eradicate them, but I could not find the entry point into the room.

The problem culminated one morning as I walked out of my bathroom with some shower supplies.  I began to place them on the bookshelf leaning against the outside wall to the bathroom. 

I suddenly jumped back in shock when I saw a small army of ants running across the top of my book shelf.  Although there were some ants crawling in random directions across the books, photo frames and décor on the shelf, there was also a distinct line of ants between the back of the bookshelf and the base of my cordless telephone.  I watched in amazement as it seemed that the ants were carrying object in and out of the telephone.  Some were crawling in and out of the speakers.  Others were going into the spaces in the buttons and others simply going underneath.

The ant "nursery" under the phone in our bedroom.

After Jenny arrived, we both ventured into the bedroom together and Jenny was the brave soul who decided to pick up the telephone to see what was underneath.

I got my second shock when I saw a huge pile of little white ovals gathered under the phone.  Jenny and I suddenly realized that this was an ant’s nest and that the queen ant had laid her eggs inside the phone. 

The following 30 minutes were quite interesting as we had to open the phone, spray everything down with bug spray and try to remove all the ants and eggs from the different compartments of the phone.  I think we collected enough ant eggs to fill a soup bowl. 

At the same time that we were cleaning, we had to keep Jared and Luke occupied so that they wouldn’t end up in the middle of the mess.  I turned on a video and they were entertained for most of the clean-up process.   Every once in a while, they would get curious as to what we were doing in the kitchen and try to come over and see.

Somehow we managed to get all the ants out of the phone in time for the boys’ naps and were able to spare the phone from being destroyed. It still seems to functioned properly.  I moved the bookshelf far from that wall and sprayed the hole where ants had originally entered our home. 

In the midst of my relief that we were able to get rid of the ants, I’m still in wonder as to why ants decided to move into a phone to build a nest.  Perhaps the rain had kept them form building a regular ant hill outside.  Perhaps the warmth and dryness of the phone attracted the queen ant to that location.  Maybe ants are getting really sophisticated and advanced in the 21st century, and have discovered that modern appliances provide a much more luxurious home than a dirty ant hill.

Whatever the reason, I don’t think I’ll ever look at my telephone in the same way again.

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