The Invasion of the Ants

The past week has been busy with important events at Africa University, but the week will go down in my memory bank as the time of the “Invasion of the Ants!”

About ten days ago, I noticed a steady stream of very small ants trooping along the baseboard of my bathroom. By that evening they were setting up housekeeping in my section of the Guest House, with my bedroom and the bathroom as their headquarters. I knew this colony was serious because they had carried in a bunch of their supplies with them – small bits of chaff for food and bedding. They even occupied my bathtub, apparently thinking it made a nice safe hostel.

A workman came and sprayed the baseboards the next day, and that slowed the ant colony down for a few days, but four days later they were back on the move with more determination than ever. Now they were coming in around the windows as well as the baseboards. Each morning I swept out a dustpan full of their supplies, and by evening they had completely restocked, so this became a twice daily ritual.

On Friday afternoon the workman brought a plastic bottle filled with Sunlight Concentrated Dish Detergent, which he said ants don’t like. He used it to create barriers to their entry points and supply lines. This slowed the colony down, but didn’t stop it by any means. Over the weekend I still had to sweep out their supplies  once or twice a day.

When I examined the exterior of the house, I noticed that the ants had multiple colonies with characteristic red sand deposits around many cracks in the cement around the periphery of the foundations. Apparently the house is situated in the middle of a gigantic ant empire. I decided the only long-term solution will be to fill all these cracks with fresh mortar. I proposed this to my friends in the AU Administrative office after describing the events of the past few days, and they promised to ask maintenance to solve this problem quickly. Since I survived the weekend, I guess I can manage for a few more days, but I’m still not sure if I am outwitting the ants or they are outwitting me!



  1. Ed,

    You need E.O. Wilson to come to the rescue! My problem at Greenglade Flats was not ants but cockroaches. I got rid of them with insecticidal chalk. I don’t know whether you can still buy it on the streets of Mutare, but it works great. Maybe too great! When I drew a line with chalk around the sink or bathtub I would find large numbers of dead roaches in the sink and bathtub. Aparentlly they were living in the drain. Best wishes for a solution to you problem.


  2. Oh boy! You do have a problem. I saw a colony of these “cutter ants” with their soldiers while on safari in Zimbabwe and I learned they are unstopable. Hope you do not neet to blow them up like on Caddy Shack.

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