Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ants Dig Cold

There’s an entomological adjustment involved with moving to Miami. If you’re easily startled, you brace yourself when flicking the lights on, mentally prepared for the mahogany sheen of a cockroach the size of your thumb, sometimes frozen, sometimes running for its life.

Cockroaches run on two legs. Just so you know.

You might shake your coat or clothes out before you put them on, or snap your shoes sole to sole. Okay, maybe you did that up north for spiders, but did you rattle your front door before you left so cockroaches squeezed between the door and the jamb didn’t fly into your face?

Cockroaches can wriggle through a crack the thinness of a dime. Just, you know, FYI.

And Florida cockroaches fly.

If you don’t want an ant problem, you make sure your counters are spotless. You keep your pantry items – the cereal, sugar, flour, corn syrup, bread crumbs, etc, etc – packaged in gallon bags. Even that isn’t always enough.

My first job in Miami was in the kitchen at Bennigan’s. I’d transferred from the Syracuse Bennigan's, where I’d worn the same pair of work boots. When I went to put them on for my first shift in Miami, the boots swarmed with ants. Northern bugs were apparently too sluggish to find the bits of food ground into the treads.

I tried hosing the soles down when I left work for the day, but it didn’t help. The tiniest bits drew crowds. Eventually, I ended up putting my boots in plastic bags and hanging them up when I got home.

To heat my place during the recent cold snap, I closed all the windows and opened all the blinds. I turned on every light in the place. Ants gathered around my lights and died. This is something I’ve never had happen. I’ve fought trails of live ants, but coming home or waking up and finding their corpses in droves around heat sources is new and frustrating. It could be the bug spray. They’re attracted to the heat but they have to pass through lemon-scented death to reach it, so all I find are ant corpses. Or maybe the cold is already killing them when they come inside and the light bulbs just delay the inevitable. Whatever the reason, I got tired of wiping or sweeping them up three times a day.

When the cold snap ended, I went into full-on spotless mode. I basked in a home without little black dots drifted everywhere for a few hours, then went out for dinner. When I returned, there was a cockroach near the coffee table (toe up and struggling, thanks to Minime, who provided torture but couldn’t be bothered to finish the job) and a silverfish on the stove. Damn.

You’ve heard that man plans and God laughs? In the Treehouse, Aaron cleans and Mother Nature sends small, hairy, armored guests.


  1. I feel your pain. We have to "seal" everything in the kitchen, otherwise those tiny, tenacious creatures are everywhere. Roaches I haven't see in the house anymore... thank the gods. They scare me more than Pat Robertson.

  2. Yup. Spiders up north. I shake my towels before drying off after a shower. it's horrible and gross and terrifying.

  3. I, too, would rather find Pat Robertson in my kitchen sink in the wee hours of the morning.