When Ants Attack

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.
The ants go marching one by one.
The little one stops to suck his thumb.
And they all go marching in to the boat, to find yummy food.
Boom, boom, boom!
– MOKEN modified children’s song

Ants! An invasion of thousands of teeny, tiny ants!!! We discovered them in the kitchen on the counter a few days back. A swarm of ants at the end of one big long line of the crawling creatures.

We traced them back to the source. They’d climbed up the shore power cord from the dock, followed it along the deck of MOKEN and being so tiny, they came into the boat where the power cord is plugged in. Through some mysterious inner passageway known only to ants and presto, out into the kitchen, across the floor, up the cabinets, along the backsplash to the prize. They’d found a wee puddle of food that missed the after dinner clean up a couple of days ago.

So we scoured the counter and washed down their trail all the way back to the dock. And felt itchy all over for no apparent reason. At least they aren’t biters.

We did some research online. Apparently there are two types of ants and the bait you use for one type may not work for the other. Some have a sweet tooth. And some prefer grease. Which did we have? Who knew?? We also learned that cleaning their trail is only supposed to make matters worse. Oops!!!

We figured kitty’s food might pose a problem. The dry food bowl stays out all the time. Lo and behold, that was the next target. But they left the dry food alone and went straight for the juicy remnants in the wet food bowl. This time the numbers were even greater. Back up the shore power cord again but this time they forged a new train through the interior. Kitty’s food bowl is now removed and washed after every feeding.

More online research led to a possible solution posted on the Cruisers’ Forum by another boater right here at the Subic marina. According to Pelagic, we should wrap a small piece of cloth around each dock line and shore umbilical. Soak it in engine lube oil and, supposedly, the ants will not cross.

We also asked the girls at the American Legion what to do for ants, and they suggested a chalk that keeps ants from crossing, which we found at the DIY shop. We also found peanut butter based ant traps at another store, but were reluctant to try them because they aren’t supposed to be used around pets.

Instead, we asked Rolly (one of the boat boys) to dip a small rag in diesel and wrap it around the shore power cord to test Pelagic’s theory. It did seem to solve the problem. At least for a day.

Yesterday, kitty was out of sorts and I noticed he hadn’t been eating much of his dry food. When I picked up his bowl, the food was alive. It was swimming in ants! No wonder he was grumpy. This was the biggest infestation yet. More cleaning. More ant slaughter. More poking into corners armed with a flashlight and a damp cloth.

Apparently, this time the ants found a new route on board. Up the dock lines. Now even Nukaat’s dry food is kept in the fridge. This mean no more snacking between meals. Poor kitty.

At least we had already taken the precaution of buying a whole armload of Lock & Lock airtight containers to store all our dry foods. This done because all the food left aboard in so-called “sealed” canisters was infested with little black bugs. The food was tossed and the canisters were donated to Rolly’s wife. Fortunately, the ants haven’t discovered this endless supply of food in our pantry. Not yet, anyway.

Those ant scouts certainly do work overtime. This morning when I was on ant patrol and checking around kitty’s water bowl, surprise, more ants. This new trail led all the way back to the kitchen. Back to the counter. Guess I shouldn’t have left that bag of yummy garlic bread out overnight. It looked sealed, but obviously it was not ant proof. What was I thinking? It was teaming with crawlies and went straight off the boat and into the garbage.

And so the battle continues! We’ll have to try the rag trick with all the dock lines next.

“Ant I chose because, if there’s a nuclear explosion, the ants will survive.”
– Adam Ant