The view from the top of the ant hill.

I have come to believe that the grassy slope on which the townhouse I purchased several years ago is built is, in fact, a giant ant hill.

I didn’t notice the ants in the flower gardens at first. I was enamored by first time home ownership and distracted by the bigger problem of mice who found their way into the living room via the fireplace.

I also figured that, unlike the mice, the ants were outside so I didn’t need to worry about them.

But then last year the ants, as my mother put it, “stopped respecting our space,” and decided to move indoors.

Even worse, they chose to take up residence in the kitchen.

We weren’t overrun with ants, but there were enough of them to creep us out, make us feel all crawly.

With three cats, we didn’t want to spray with some nasty insecticide. I’d rather have ants than poisoned pets.

We tried those ant traps, but when I found my girl cat nosing around one I got nervous and threw them all away. (I’m overly protective of my furry friends.)

So to find a non-chemical solution I did what I always do in times of crisis… took to the internet.

Come to find out peppermint oil deters ants. They also don’t like to walk across lines of chalk.

I headed to Staples while my mother hit the natural food store.

A short time later, armed with chalk and a spray bottle of oil, we tackled the kitchen.

We pulled out the stove and refrigerator, spraying like fiends. I drew thick chalk lines next to the baseboards and around the non-visible power outlets.

And it worked. The ants left and they still haven’t returned.

In revenge, however, the ants have completely taken over the walkway and deck this year. I think they spent all winter planning their attack.

We can’t sit on the deck without ants crawling up our legs.

We had our black asphalt walk replaces with tan pavers in the fall. Now when you look outside, it appears to be alive, teeming with little black dots.

We tried the mint oil, but outdoor ants seem impervious to its power. Or maybe there is so much more space that they can just crawl around it.

When the non-toxic options didn’t work, we started to panic. We practically live on the deck in the summer. We needed to take it back from the ants. It was time to go chemical.

Yesterday we went to the local home improvement store where there was a semi-helpful “Ortho Man” waiting in the pesticide aisle to sell us whatever we wanted and more.

We picked the one with a picture of the dog on it because it seemed safer and even got a free bag of some sort of lawn sprinkle ant kilter.

This morning I went to work, drenching the walk and deck in spray, sprinkling foul-smelling brown stuff on the mulch and lawn.

And now the walk is ant-free. I write this sitting on the deck with a glass of wine, without a single ant keeping me company. It’s very pleasant.

But I can’t help feel a little guilty, like I went nuclear in our little war too soon. The poor ants never knew what hit them.

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