Warning: graphic images

This is (unfortunately) likely going to be an ongoing post about dealing with pests. I own my home and am also a landlord so it often makes me pay more attention to household problems than the average Jane.

Recently, for whatever reason, I've had an unusual number of problems in my home. I had a mild ant problem in my room which I'll discuss in more detail later. I've also had a mice problem. We had a similar problem last year which we tried to deal with as humanely as possible. I.e. we tried a human mouse trap box similar to this one at Walmart. By putting a little bit of cheese bait in the box, the mouse runs in and can't get out. Of course, the problem is that then there's a live mouse in the box and in order to get the mouse out of the house, one has to bike it at least a few miles away to a park or open area. No one does that (except for Szymon) and of course the problem is that the solution doesn't scale.

Rat or mouse poison is a secondary option. It works. However, when you live in the city, there are usually mice and rats living not far from you no matter where you are. It's easy to ignore that and only worry about your own living quarters. Of course, that means that when you put the poison in your own home, you'll likely have lots of dead animals nearby. Also, even just buying rat or mouse poison in San Francisco is illegal. Last year, we did end up using some of the poison stuff and within just a couple of days we found Templeton: a gigantic rat dead in the garden. No one was willing to deal with Templeton but Szymon ended up cleaning it up. Of course, that means this year, I was highly unwilling to use the poison.

So far, it's been the good old simple snap mouse trap with some peanut butter. It worked. I caught a small mouse using it in the middle of the night and disposed of the mouse body before any of the roommates woke up. It's a quick and dirty solution, but this way, at least it leaves nature to take care of the rest of the mice and sends the simple message to stay out of the home. And, even with a warm house and some good smelly cooking, there doesn't seem to be any new mouse bodies (that I know of). Really hope it stays that way!

Onto the ant problem (and I tag GATSBI in this post because Anastasia has been working hard on a new dish which uses Ants as a delicacy). I've seen a few ants here and there. Andy and I made an ant video for Christmas which we have yet to show off. I've (re-)discovered that ants are attracted to menstrual blood. Like I said, I've seen a few ants here and there, but nothing like what happened when I left my sheets unwashed for an evening. I went to Pol and Sirma's housewarming party and came back to see an army of ants attract to the smell of blood. Sensing the opportunity to get to the bottom of this serious ant problem, I put down one trap.

I'm not exactly sure what are in these traps other than a tiny bit of Borax and a lot of sugar. Whatever it is, the stuff works like a charm. The ants congregated around the opening of these traps and went in for the bait. They couldn't even seem to sense that there were dead poisoned ants around the opening. I started to think I could get the whole colony of ants this way and ditched my plan to wash the sheets. I put out three more traps (out of six) to really see how far this could all go. If I had an ant counter, I could tell you how many of them will end up in this scenario. I don't though so I can simply document: a lot.

These ants seem to have no problem crossing the chasm of blood into the tiny opening of them liquid ant bait contraption. In fact, if you look closely, the slim opening is not enough. There are scouts crawling on top of the plastic contraption looking for more of the good stuff.

Ants congregate inside the pools of blood. The scent is probably strongest here. The darkest pool actually has the most number of ants.

I didn't want to disturb the ants too much so I didn't go looking for the source, but they all go marching one-by-one until they find the pools of blood. That thin line of blood didn't seem to do much at all and so they kept going until they found the good stuff.

Only one trap seems to be somewhat far off. We'll see how long it takes the ants to get to that one.

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Documenting makes the mundane seem interesting. Interesting matters seem to demand attention on their own.