Ants in the Dorm

A few days ago I was hanging out in my room when I noticed I had company.  A group of tiny ants barely bigger than the tip of my pencil were crawling around the surface of my desk. At the time I counted 30-40 ants, and in the last couple weeks they have fluctuated in number from a very few to hundreds each time I look.

These tiny little companions have become a part of my life. We coexist peacefully as long as I remember to keep food out of my room, but how did they get in here in the first place? Are they my friends or my enemies? And do I need to do something about them, or can I stick to the status quo?

Ants are some of the most common household pests, so these are questions many people have to ask themselves. The first question is often the most difficult for people to discover, but I have a hint that leads me to my conclusion. This same variety of ants was present in my summer residence. I discovered these ants in my car after moving here before I found them in my room. Most revealingly, none of my roommates have complained about any ants in other parts of our dorm room. Therefore, I think the ants have been hitching rides on these:

These plants have been present in all the recent places I’ve discovered this variety of ants. I also acquired two of these plants outdoors and kept them in their native soil, leading me to believe that I may have inadvertently encouraged these ants. I don’t think there is a nest in any of these plants because I see no evidence of distress when I water, but there are frequently ant on all these plants, making me think the plants may be attractive to the ants. The ants likely come through openings by the windows, where these plants usually reside, resulting in a number of ants hanging out around the area.

There are many sites that give advice for getting rid of ants that have possibly made homes in potted plants such as this one, but even if my plants are the conveyors of these creatures, the plants don’t seem to be suffering for it, so getting rid of the ants seems like an unnecessary affront to these peaceful scavengers. In addition, Bob Randall notes in his popular Houston gardening book (the online site for this book can be accessed here) that ants are often not an issue in the garden, so I figured that these ants can interact with my plants until I find that they are disturbing the plant somehow.

So the ants remain my friends until some altercation, and we will coexist until such a time. For now I use peppermint (a repellant, according to this) if I want to keep them away from something and I eat my food away from my desk and dispose of it thoroughly. With those two adjustments, are peace is maintained, and no ant massacre is necessary.

Kathryn Hokamp

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