Marie came to me this morning at about 7:45 and said, "Papa, there are a LOT of ants in the kitchen!"
So... how much is a lot to a four year old?
Thus, since the line of ants in my house this morning was no fewer than four ants across (it was a THICK line), that gives us approximately 40 ants per linear inch, or 480 ants per linear foot.
Given that I had three different lies from two different sources, this is going to add up pretty quickly:
From the top of the garden corner window, the second entry point, the ants traversed an 8 foot long window before making a 90 degree turn to head down the wall, 8 more feet, to the floor. Half of the line broke off at this point, making a 90 degree vertical turn into the carpet, whence they traversed the same 12 foot line to the kitchen as their compatriots who entered from the garden window floor, but only at 2 ants wide, giving us only 240 ants per linear foot. This line similarly entered the kitchen, but traversed the full six feet of the kitchen to the back wall where they found some cereal on the floor, left by my children. Thus giving us 34 linear feet at 240 ants per foot, for a much smaller payload (I’m guessing as the line passed by the garbage bag where the other ants were partying it up, only to arrive at four meager Gorilla Munch cereal balls, they fired – or perhaps killed and ate - their scouts). Thus, this line would contain 8,160 ants.
Picking up at the split, the rest of this line made a 90 degree turn at the floor, but stayed on the floorboards. Thse proceeded the rest of the 10 feet of that wall, behind furniture, making a 90 degree turn at the back corner of the living room, and proceeding to traverse the 8 feet of wall behind our entertainment center, splitting off at the entertainment center itself to send a line around the front of the entertainment center for God only knows what purpose since these two lines found NOTHING. This being a thicker majority of the line from the garden window, theirs was about three ants thick, giving us 360 ants per linear foot for a total of about 22 linear feet of ants (from the split), or 7,920 ants.
So at the point when my daughter, Marie, came to me and said, “papa, there are a LOT of ants in the kitchen,” there were approximately 27,120 ants in my apartment. I agree with my four year old. That is a LOT of ants!
Heading off their entry points with a heavy dose of cinnamon (ants - at least Lasius Niger - will not willingly cross a line of cinnamon – true story ;o), I went to work moving sofas, plush chairs, children’s chairs, entertainment centers, Ginger’s crate, the coffee table, and various and sundry toys and baby related apparatus. Armed with my Dyson “Animal” Ball Vacuum, I spent two and a half hours from 7:45-10:15 vacuuming up 27,120 + ants (they didn’t all stop coming in, and were spreading further afield in the kitchen, so I’m guessing their numbers must have increased).
At least Jane had the presence of mind to let me know I was making the ants scary to the children, so I brought them out to look at the lines and talked about how they set down a scent trail and move in lines, and highlighted all the great things they do to promote water absorption in the soil and break down foods that other animals can’t or won’t eat. A good teaching moment in the midst of the chaos is always a fun way to diffuse some of the aggravation of having to deal with the frustration of an invasion. :)