A Sandy Beach Almanac

You've landed at Sandy Beach, NSW, Australia: Lat. -30.15331, Long. 153.19960, UT +10:00 – local map & zoom Google map. I live in a cabin on this beach, 25 kilometres north of the traffic and shops of Coffs Harbour, 600 km north of Sydney. My intention is to post observations of Nature and life within 1 km (1,000 paces) of my South Pacific home.


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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hey ants ... consider this!

Of course, it's a non-urban, sub-tropical environment here and just a spit from Moonee Nature Reserve. Not a place to live if a few critters are going to bother you.

And I love ants, really. I had a few plastic ant farms as a kid and even as a young adult I built a beauty out of two window panes and cast a plaster (plast a caster?) moat around it so they couldn't get out into the house. Not that it worked very well. So I'm not an ant hater.

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard. Consider her ways and be wise." I know that King Solomon said that in the Bible because (a) it is always in every general article about ants and every ant farm kit that you buy, but moreso, (b) because I was brought up Baptist and if you don't have the entire Old Testament memorised by age 13 the Sunday School superintendent threatens to exorcise you in front of your schoolfriends, none of whom knows what you do on Sundays (although hurtful rumours abound).

I could consider her (the ant's) ways all day and even if I didn't become wise, which I already know is as likely as an ant becoming lazy, I would still have a good time watching her, though my attention span could be better. Not because of age, I think, but because it's only 34 years since I killed my TV (before it killed me). And, just by the way, how wise was Solomon to know the sex of an ant!

So, I have less than nothing against ants.

And compared to some people, I even have a high tolerance for ants in the house. Sometimes I get little ant hills growing up in my carpet. Not a lot, but I do.

And even around the sink, I don't mind a few. But here is a confession. I had a little bottle of AntRid for when they got out of hand. When the bench seeems to m-o-o-o-o-ve.

AntRid is efficacious only in an approximate way, but shaming in a very precise way. I've been avoiding nasties like insecticides all my life and really felt bad that I had succumbed just because I could see my toaster moving.

Every time I saw my kitchenette looking like the Wynyard Station Concourse at 5 PM, I would run through my head all the alternative therapies I knew and dismiss them one by one. Pennyroyal mint (too rare), baking soda (I'd have to buy it), chili powder (too allergic).

Lately I've been feeling extra guilty, since one of the other many tiny creatures that shares my cabin with me, a little garden skink, was on my bookshelf stalking some little critter caught in a daddy-long-legs spider's web, and I panicked to think that such an exquisitely beautiful creature might eat a poisoned ant. Then I thought about how my food bench is the only place on the property which is part of 21st-Century chemical warfare (which is the state of much of the world), so I decided to end my shameful experiment then and there. What about all those other tiny things that share my home? How could I live with myself if I made the place a toxic dump? I've been enjoying a grasshopper the size of a match head so much, this madness had to stop!

Ladies and gentlemen, there is an answer: salt. All I did was slosh around a bit of the old Cerebos on the ant concourse and they've gone, or so it seems. That was easier than I could have dreamed. I got rid of the AntRid, and now the only thing weighing on my conscience (in the insecticide department, anyway) is that soon it will be seeeping into some landfill near Coffs Harbour. The only consolation, I suppose, is that it couldn't happen to a nicer country town, and it wouldn't be noticed there anyway.

I know today's post doesn't refer to "Nature within a thousand paces of my South Pacific home", because it's in the cabin, but it's wet outside, I've been hell busy, I'm getting busier tonight and I thought I could get away with it just this once. I hope that was wise. See you tomorrow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Risking of sounding mundane, a vacuum cleaner works wonders in the critters department (providing you have one) and is not toxic.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Pip said...

It's a good point. I use mine on the ant hills every now and again.

10:58 PM  

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