Nontoxic pest control

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Nontoxic pest control

The words we use for this season are interesting to consider. In French and Spanish, the words for ‘spring’ relate to first life, a beginning. In English, we use a word that suggests both movement and a source. Life really does spring up before us in springtime, especially in a climate like ours in New England. Most of my perennial plants die back to the ground every winter, and it’s hard to imagine the lush fullness of the bed along the terrace in August now, when they’re just beginning to push out leaves.

Along with plant life come the insects. We don’t suffer much from the flies that sometimes plague people in May, but this is the time when our kitchen is suddenly awash with fairly large black ants. It doesn’t last long, and they’re quite harmless, so I certainly wouldn’t dream of taking violent action. Just keeping things clean helps, but they’re still on the prowl. I’m happy to report that my son has devised an ant trap that is breathtakingly simple and has completely solved the problem.

He fills a small glass bottle–an old spice jar or salt shaker–with sugar syrup, made by dissolving two parts white sugar in one part water. (We keep this around for sweetening drinks.) He then covers the top tightly with a small piece of aluminum foil and pokes a tiny hole in the middle with the tip of a knife.

And that’s it. The bottle, in our case, goes under the sink by the compost pail, because that’s where there are the most ants. They climb in and can’t get out, and that’s that. Flush ‘em or add them to the compost. Kids love this—they are amazingly bloody minded and unsentimental—we were comparing the ant trap to the final scene in Titanic last night.

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