US Dept of Ag photo, via Wikimedia

US Dept of Ag photo, via Wikimedia

Last week our new deep-well pump quit working. Much to my relief, it did not need replacement. Our electrician put his fancy meter to work and determined that the problem was in a circuit breaker :  yup, ants had crawled in there for some mysterious farming, or partying. I don’t know if the ants were Crazy (doubtful) or just hungry, or maybe having a rave or an orgy in there. But Rolando installed a new breaker, and the pump was back.

Just before he connected it, I put some drops of clove oil on the breaker.  In October I had experimented with oil of clove for protecting our bed, where ants were invading our sheets, and biting me at night! At a loss, and not wanting to fumigate, I knotted a piece of yarn around each leg of the bed, and saturated it with oil of clove which I got at a local alternative pharmacy :  Super Naturalista, c.56 x61y63, in Centro.  This was just a hunch, based on knowing that bees and ants are very sensitive to aromas. It has remained effective for several months now, with nary an ant in the bed.

Our ants may not be crazy, but they’re not welcome in the house. When they invade the kitchen we feed them boric acid which we bought at a regular pharmacy, (Comercio San Cristobal, c.69 #441 x48, Centro) mixing the powder into a paste with simple syrup, about 1:1 until well blended. We put it in a bottle cap. They take it back to the nest, and then vanish. Boric acid is very safe to handle. Sorry, but we’re not running a food pantry for insects, although I do appreciate the way they clean most things in the backyard. . . .

. . . . Except for the leaf cutter ants which like to chew our Bougainvillea. There is an excellent remedy called Trompa which we get at Home Depot. It’s a biological agent which is apparently designed expressly for leaf cutter ants. It incorporates the fungus the ants routinely make for food stores from the leaves of your landscape plants. The manufacturer adds a bacillus thuringensis bacterium to their food which sickens the entire colony. Leaf cutters do their work after dark. Simply spot them with a flashlight, and put a small pile of the pellets on one of their pathways. Be sure it remains dry. If your plants are showing serious depletion of leaves, with big bites out of some remaining leaves, they are likely  the culprit. This stuff really works, and it’s safe.