Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Better say uncle, ants!

Your contest suggestions help... and frighten me just a bit

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I wish all those critics who think Canadians lack killer instinct could see the flood of responses to our Help Me Kill The Giant Ants In My Backyard Contest.

This is the contest I launched Monday in a sincere journalistic effort to have readers send me lethal suggestions for eradicating ants the size of Labrador retrievers that are erupting from my lawn and marching toward the defenceless cupcakes on our kitchen counter.

I am feeling very proud to be a Manitoban at this moment because you readers did an awesome job of responding to this contest. As I write these words, my living-room floor is littered with hundreds of printed emails, many of which have been slobbered on by my dogs, who assisted me in selecting the grand-prize winner.

After reviewing the entries, it became clear a great many readers wanted me to know the best way to get rid of ants is to sprinkle their hills liberally with baking soda, cornmeal or cream of wheat. As reader Doreen Mikulik put it: "The ants eat the granules, take it back to the nest, share their spoils, then as the granules expand the ants EXPLODE!"

I can't think of anything more fun on a summer evening than sitting on my patio relaxing to the soothing sounds of exploding ants, but we don't have time to think about that right now because we need to move on to some of the other suggestions.

There was a great deal of support for liquidating ants by dousing them in boiling water or bleach. Reader Karen McCreary, however, favoured a more flammable option. "I've found my daughter's solution is the best," she wrote. "She douses the hills with gasoline and sets them on fire."

This would be a fine option if my goal, along with getting rid of ants, was to burn down my neighbourhood, but for the moment I am focusing on ideas that will not result in me spending time in prison.

Rylan Reed from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. offered up the spiciest concept. "My wife boils a big spaghetti pot full of water, then adds a whole container of cayenne pepper and half a bottle of Frank's hot sauce to the water," Rylan wrote. "She then takes the concoction and pours it over the ant hills. Works like a charm."

Some readers encouraged me to pluck ants from one hill and plop them onto another, thereby inducing a fight to the death. Other readers instead urged me to kill them with love.

"Are these hordes of maiden aunts?" asked Peter Carlyle-Gordge. "If so, get them involved with an online dating club and pack them off on dates. You may end up with a lawn full of new uncles. Just trying to be helpful. Try the Plenty of Aunts website."

Aware that I live close to the zoo, reader Stuart Cummings recommended I rent their anteater for the summer. "Besides the benefit of eliminating your ants, you will receive untold amounts of free anteater droppings," Stuart pointed out. "If you diligently put this solution to work, your ants will soon be crying uncle."

Many of you simply felt I should abandon my ant-intensive property altogether. Joseph Payjack, an expert at the age of 83, said I should move to the top floor of the world's highest structure provided "it is surrounded by a 200-foot-wide moat, totally electrified, and the moat must be filled with 100 per cent Ant Killer Pesticide."

Forget pesticides entirely, is what William Thomson told me. "The stuff in all those containers is really ANT FOOD to sustain them on their long march over to your neighbour's yard," he warned, adding: "The alternative to all of the above is cement; green cement. Think about it!"

I definitely did, William. I also thought about Mike Maskell's suggestion I coat each ant with peanut butter "and unleash your dogs... dogs love peanut butter and in short order the problem will be taken care of."

Which somehow brings us to our grand prize winner, sent in by Judy Kaczmarz, who waxed poetical:

"I called on my neighbours to help with my labours/To get rid of my bad pesky ants/They eat my Spirea, crawl all over me/And right up the leg of my pants.

"They said to use Borax, sugar and syrup/They'll be gone in the blink of an eye/But the ants just went 'slurrup'/And not one rolled over to die.

"Pour hot water into their dorm/People said that was best/But the ants just sighed because it was so warm/And crawled right out of their nest.

"In much desperation, I might call on the pros/Until then I'll do all that I can/So we'll just see how it goes/Before the pesticide ban."

Judy's moving poem has earned her a copy of our new bestseller, Back in the Bigs, some tickets to an upcoming event and a dozen cupcakes. Now that she's our big shot winner, let's hope Judy doesn't forget the little people. Because they're hiding in her cupboards eating cornmeal. If you listen closely you can hear them explode.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 1, 2012 A2

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