Notes From Hairenik
August 4, 2011
This summer we've seen an unprecedented number of ants marching in file along the baseboards and walls of our kitchen. No matter how much we try to keep the counter and table free of crumbs and miscellaneous food bits, the ants keep coming back to the same spot looking for things that are or more often not there.

As an example, the table cloth  that we use is vinyl on the top side, while the reverse is coated with a sort of short, woolly felt. Once in a while we'd see an ant or two exploring the surface of the table and we'd either leave them alone or flick them off the table, landing somewhere on the kitchen linoleum and walking away unscathed. But they keep coming back.

It wasn't until I just happened to lift up the cloth when I saw that the parts that drape across the edges of the table were invested with ants. Seems the intense summer heat is getting to not only people and animals but insects as well. Apparently everyone in Yerevan has problems with hordes of ants in the home, and it seems they were looking for a new, temporary home somewhere cool. Evidently, they like the feel of felt. I noticed the same thing in the spare bedroom -- the underside of the ironing pad which has the same woolly felt as the table cloth was also coated with ants. They were exterminated using a solution of water and vodka (the cheap stuff, vodka lovers shouldn't freak).

In the kitchen, I've been using concentrated white vinegar and water to kill them on contact and supposedly keep them away as they hate the smell of vinegar. But these ants, being as stubborn as virtually all Armenians on the planet, were unphased. I also used Vasoline to blockade the intersections of their roadways, but that backfired. They would come back to carry away or eat their friends who perished in the globules of petroleum jelly, and a chain reaction of ants coming to the rescue was initiated. I've vacuumed thousands of ants in the last couple of weeks, but their buddies always managed to find the way in, and I couldn't necesarily locate the source since they were marching either close to the floor or high on the walls out of reach from the gigantic, noisy predators below.

Online I found other suggestions for keeping the ants away using kitchen supplies, like crushed mint and cayenne pepper (they walked unfazed right across the lines I laid along the counter edges) and black pepper, which they didn't like but would soon find a bypass route to avoid it. Supposedly boric acid works great but I was afraid Chi Chi would take a whiff of some deposited in a corner and get sick or die.

Finally, I stumbled upon one site that mentioned using chalk.  I asked Anush to look in the neighborhood shops and she found some that was specially formulated to kill ants and cockroaches. I drew likes along the bottom edges of the rotted wooden double-door windows, having finally realized they were sneaking in from a hole in the lower right corner, and in other hot spots. With 50 dram (14 cents) worth of chalk -- two sticks to be precise -- I managed to eradicate them completely, including those trying to get in. Miraculous.

Anyone reading this living in Yerevan who happens to have ant problems in the home should rush to the local hardware store (transliterated into Armenian as tntesakan aprankneri khanut) and buy some sticks of chalk (kavij). Once you manage to close the gaps through which you suspect the stream of ants are seeping in and draw some lines in the troublesome areas, the problem will be completely resolved in ten minutes. Then it will be time to sweep up all the insect carcasses.

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3 Comments:
Blogger Arshakadelic said...
Is the chalk safe for Chi Chi to sniff around in?

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
So far, so good!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Chalk? Go figure..

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