James Lileks
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We have two enormous ant colonies at opposite ends of the lawn. One of them we’ll call Stupidia, because the ants seem to enjoy crawling into a landscape light fixture and burning up.

Every week the light dims, which means it’s clogged with roasted ant carcasses. If people tried to get into a sauna only to find it stuffed with broiled Finns, for example, they’d probably back away and warn those coming up the hallway, but ants just keep packing in.

The other colony lives in a barren area with low-rise mounds, blasted by the sun; I’ll call it Scottsdale. These guys tunnel under the patio and make little mounds of sand between the bricks, which means the patio will be uneven someday, and it’s not like I can sue them for damages. Imagine the trial:

Attorney: “State your name for the record.”

Queen: “Chitter chit scree.”

Translator: “She said ‘Antigone, Fecund Sac of the Realm, Mother to the World, the Brood-Goddess of Scottsdale. Well, Fountain Hills. It’s part of Southdale. Bring me leaves that I may feast!’ ”

Attorney: “Thank you. On May 3, 2015, did you not move onto the plaintiff’s property without permission with the intention of establishing residence for hundreds of thousands of your offspring, thereby damaging the foundations of the patio pavers?”

Queen’s defense attorney: (Rising up and waving antennae) “Clikity slicclick heeeee, your honor.”

No, that wouldn’t work. You can’t evict them, so you have to wipe them out. I went to the hardware store, wandered over to the poison aisle, where you can find all sorts of lethal remedies for any living creature stupid enough to wander onto your land. Vole Smotherers! Grub Disruptors! Stalin’s Breath™ Beetle Banisher!

I don’t want to kill anything; I just want to discourage the ants from hanging around. Maybe there’s an anti-ant powder made of ground-up French philosophy textbooks that would make the ants just sit around arguing about the meaninglessness of life.

Nope. The products’ designs were strangely aggressive, as if ants were puppy-sized predators coming for my family. They had Hot Shot MaxAttrax, which sounds like a hard rock ’80s band. The label screams: “Kills the Queen and destroys the colony!” Who’s the target market for this thing, 19th-century French revolutionaries?

More: “Provides relief from even tough ant problems!”

Do I have tough ants? Are they sniffing the first whiff of Hot Shot and sneering: “That all you got, buddy? Bring it!” If I just had gentle ant problems, would I still need to kill the queen? Because that sounds like I’ve dragged some nice dowager doing her knitting up to the Tower of London and barked, “Quickly, now” to the axman.

Here’s my favorite part: “Use indoors, outdoors, or anywhere ants are a problem.”

As far as I know, indoors and outdoors pretty much covers it.

I put the little poison shacks down in a location where the dog couldn’t find them (note: the dog immediately found them) and absolved myself of all responsibility. Hey, I didn’t bring the poison down to the queen. That was totally some ant dude’s decision. I left Stupidia alone, by the way, and just relocated the light. It’s possible they think it means there’s a premiere of a big movie and will evolve quickly once they realize it’ll be on Netflix eventually.