ants in yucatán

ants swept up in dustbin

Suffering through ants in Yucatán has added a little angst to my life. I certainly realize the power of other inhabitants on this planet when I return home to find a small mountain of dirt and garbage built during a few short hours. I have stood amazed watching these ants emerge from the garbage can, single file by the hundreds, making their way out back to the hill they’ve built to add more refuse for a giant nest in my dining room. At first I mistook it for potting soil, but it was only when i watched this laborious effort that I realized what it truly was. My answer, sadly, was the vacuum cleaner. A month before, I noticed several light switches not working. In a call to my landlord, I asked her to bring over the electrician. I could not understand why one recently replaced switch had stopped working after a few weeks. Then I remembered the advice, and warning, from one electrician. Periodically spray ant killer into your outlets. After dismantling one outlet, I discovered the problem that plagued the rest. In this case, it was tiny ants building little nests in the outlets. The sand granules that they ate out of the walls had actually filled the switch boxes, and I was not longer able to turn on several lights. This problem was evident in switches and in outlets. I found that sweeping and vacuuming the granules, which were so fine, was not enough. Fortunately, I had a can of air –– which I usually use to blow dust off my keyboard — was very useful in blowing the fine granules out of the switches and outlets. Although, for anyone who does try this at home, I will recommend standing back from the area while injecting air. I was, at one point, covered in fine dust on my first try. Which was remedied by a shower. Now, if only I can begin to control the sewer flies, which have been so actively breeding in my shower drain while I was away, I will be ahead of the game. No wonder my neighbor’s offer of a smaller house with less hassle looks so appealing. But the one thing I will always remember about living in Yucatán is that is it a daily struggle to conquer nature and the elements. Like that time I was sitting here typing and felt something tickle my feet. Only to see a scorpion a few minutes later and realize that I just missed a very sharp sting. But that is a story for another day and the reason why I shake out my shoes in the morning.

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