I recently read that cornmeal can kill ants. Ants think cornmeal is extremely tasty and finding it is a rare treat. They bring it back to the nest by the truckload where it is enjoyed by all. Unfortunately they can’t digest it and it makes them really bloated so they can’t escape the ant hole anymore to get real food. Then they all die. It would be like you finding a large bag of Taco Bell on the sidewalk and bringing it in to the office for all of your coworkers to enjoy. Sure you’re a temporary hero for bringing in food for the whole office, but productivity quickly drops from the digestion issues and food poisoning from the meat that was sitting in the sun.
Shortly after reading that article I found a colony of ants, precariously close to the house. I went inside to see if I had cornmeal to try this trick, but I only had corn starch. “Corn is corn!” I said and brought the container of potential poison out to the ants.
I poured a thin line of corn starch in the obvious path of the ants between my house and their home. Instantly I saw a traffic jam as the ants’ pheromone path was interrupted. Also, the ants refused to cross over the mound to reach the other side, and began trying to find the long path around the white wall. They wouldn’t eat the starch, but it certainly screwed up their routine. When I saw they had connected the two sides I increased the length of the wall, forming the Great Wall of Corn Starch, indefinitely separating haploids from diploids and soldiers from their Queen.
Mildly satisfied with disrupting the colony’s production line, I went to go back inside to look for real poison when the curious neighbor kid came over to see what I was doing. I explained to him how the pheromone trail worked because the ants can smell which way the food is (in my house). “Neat! I wanna smell it!” He got down on his hands and knees to smell the trail.
“I wanna smell it too!” his brother jumped off of his big wheel and tried to smell the trail.
They both came up coughing, with white corn starch all over their faces. “I don’t like ant smells!” said the older. “It smells like burning!” said the younger.
Their mom came out of her garage and noticed her kids bothering me again. “What are you guys doing over there?” she yelled.
“We’re smelling the ant lines that Dan showed us!” said the older kid, wiping his nose off and getting corn starch on his hands and shirt.
“It makes me feel funny!” the younger said, getting back on his big wheel, which he drove out into the street.
She looked horrified when she got a good look at their faces. She started yelling at her kids to get away from my house. That was good old fashioned parenting. Her son screamed and ran wildly towards the house. The younger kid was doing donuts in the street. She walked closer to me and saw the Great Wall of Corn Starch. I smiled proudly.
Then she started using cuss words at me, which was not very neighborly. When she was done cussing, I told her that I was just experimenting when her kids came over and started asking questions. I also told her how disappointed I was that her kids didn’t know about pheromone trails because I learned that when I was 6-year-old from Reading Rainbow. She stared at me as if she had no idea what I was talking about, so I started to sing “Butterfly in the sky.” I gestured for her to jump in when she recalled the words, “I can fly twice as high…” Suddenly she punched me in the face.
That’s the last thing I remembered before waking up to a number of police cars and ambulances. There was a lot of explaining to do.