As an animal lover, I find it hard to kill anything, even creepy-crawlies, but there are two exceptions, clothes moths (I’ve never forgiven them for eating my teddy bear) and ants.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go out of my way to kill any of them, in fact I find the ant’s social behaviour fascinating, I just don’t want them in my house (or eating my teddy bear!)

I think the thing that un-nerves me about ants is the fact that they appear in such great numbers and the fact that they are so quick and apparently random in their movements. They emerge in the kitchen first in about May and then in various other points around the house, but are usually gone by late August.

I’ve tried various things to remove them, but nothing actually does. The best thing you can hope for is to control them and the best and cheapest method I’ve found for that is talcum powder. Apparently the ultra fine grains interfere with their breathing and they don’t like it. The downside is that for about 4 months in summer the house is peppered with drifts of white powder.

Outside they are less of a problem. I don’t particularly like it when I inadvertantly disturb a nest whilst I’m digging, but I do love watching the well organised little chaps trying to rescue their eggs and carry them to safety. You have to admire them somehow.

At some pre-determined date in August all the ones that have grown wings, I don’t know the technical term, emerge from underground and fly towards the sun. The ones that find themselves in my kitchen window and the like at this stage, have a pretty brief life, but the ones that emerge into the sunlight in the garden do somewhat better, or at least some of them do.

In late August last year we were outside washing the car when we noticed some movement in the flower bed by the garage. When we looked closely we saw thousands of winged ants scrambling about, the sunlight reflecting on their wings making quite a bizarre and remarkable sight. Gradually each took off, heading in the general direction of the sun, I still don’t know where they thought they were going, but not all of them made it because the sparrows who live in the garden, were waiting for them.

In fact the sparrows, who must have seen it all before, were lying in wait on the conservatory roof. They would take off and perform various aerobatics in their pursuit of the flying ants. We watched this aerial ballet for some time, and felt privileged to do so. What the final score was I don’t know but I suspect that the ants won by sheer force of numbers.