The ants are coming! The ants are coming! Actually, they’re already here. Their large numbers are apparent with every stone I overturn in the yard. Never have I seen so many so early in the season.
During mild winters such as the one we just experienced (the third mildest on record according to Environment Canada) fewer ants succumb to the cold. Consequently, their numbers are higher than usual in the spring and throughout the following summer.
Ants are excellent communicators that are super quick to relay information of new sources of food to one another. If in doubt, see Ant Labour. If you don’t clear the crumbs on your kitchen counter, one ant will tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and before you can sing ‘Happy Birthday’, they’re walking away with the cake.
The ants shown in these photos are all female. Male ants are the ones with wings. If you like to admire them at a distance, you might wish to take action to make sure they don’t make their way into your home. Some people use cucumber or citrus peelings around their foundations. Others sprinkle strong spices such as cinnamon or pepper across thresholds.
Many animals, such as birds and amphibians, enjoy incorporating ants into their diets. Making your yard friendly to these creatures goes a long way to controlling some of the ant population. See Why Every Princess Needs a Toad in her Garden and The Flying Anteater.
Of course simply keeping things neat, especially in the kitchen, helps to control the number of ants dropping in uninvited for lunch. Spraying counters with a solution of vinegar and water may smell wonderfully fresh and clean to us, but not to ants.
Good luck with the invasion and please feel free to share any tips you might have.
Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012