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Are The Ants Coming For Your Light Switch Next?

Turn on the lights, the (ant) party is over

It’s hard to sleep when you know the ants are on the march. I mean, they’re always on the march somewhere – you probably didn’t know that – but it’s when you know they are marching against you that everything changes.

Before we go any further, I want it on the record that I didn’t start this skirmish. I have nothing against ants. It’s unlikely anything can challenge mosquitoes and District of Columbia mystery-mites-that-I-never-see as my most hated insects. You walk outside around here on a humid summer night, to the bugs it’s like someone paraded a filet mignon right by them.

But the biting insects seem to be mercenaries, you never have any sense that they’re working together. You battle them on a nightly basis, but they don’t worry you.

Not so with the ants.

Dying For Power

And I hate to worry alone, so here’s what happened: Ants destroyed the light switch in our garage. Many of them were electrocuted in the process and they didn’t care. They kept going, which turns out to be the biggest problem with ants. Their only setting is relentless.

A little context. Our house was built in 1915 and the garage is separate and on the back of the property. One day I noticed a flickering light bulb in the garage, which I assumed was the bulb because the other one was fine. 

I replaced the bulb – another work day in the books!

When I turned on the switch, it made a buzzing sound, which I now believe was the sound of several ants being executed, and then went dead. The circuit breaker had tripped and killed power to the garage and parts of the house – and wouldn’t you know it that would include the section where my wife was working from home that day. 

Now, my Dad was a man of many skills and was a licensed electrician, so I knew right away what to do. I pulled the switch, saw a few fried ant carcasses fall out. Taped off the wires, went into the basement, kept the garage breaker turned off and restored power to the rest of the house.

Next, and this is very important, I interrupted my busy wife to simply say, “It was the ants,” and then turned and walked away without providing any more information.

Remember my advice in the Meeks Marital Handbook under “Household Usefulness”: First, be sure you can fix the problem (done) and then always vaguely overstate the severity of it (keep it simple). Executed properly, said spouse is left thinking there is a potentially huge problem, but lucky for her you’re around to fix it.

Because remember, if I am not the handyman, then she’s going to go find a handyman, and I don’t need those worries. That’d be way worse than the ants.

No Off Days

Our garage does not have finished interior walls, so the light switch box is mounted to an open 2 X 4. It took longer to go buy the new switch than it did to replace it, reconnect the wires, restore power to the garage lights. Victory declared.

I also took the extra step of attempting to seal any gaps around the light switch with electrical tape. That ought to do it.

I now realize that at ant headquarters, the queen and her all-female army were unimpressed. They probably had two of their six legs on their hips, laughing hysterically as little ant jesters (males of course, destined to be dead in a week) performed the “Human with the Electrical Tape” comedy dance at the Queen’s Ball.

No, they weren’t doing that. I wish ants did take nights off to party. That would at least level the playing field. They don’t party. You party. They march. There is nothing they love more than marching. A break to them is eating so they can march again.

And guess where they marched? A week later, my garage light switch was dead again. This time, I took a careful look and spotted, on the backside of a board running to the ceiling, a long line of ants marching from somewhere to my light switch. 

The electrical tape did nothing. I think they found it a rather pleasant, soothing surface for their little ant feet.

Fear The Cinnamon Man

Two dead switches in, I had to find out what this was all about. And of course, as soon as you go online, you find out that ants have an “affinity” for electrical fields and no one knows why. It’s that last part that is terrifying because it’s a lie. Someone knows why and that someone is the ants. 

They’re up to something and they’re playing the long game. Just a theory at this point but I think ants have seen enough to become convinced humans are well on our way to making ourselves extinct, so they’re studying our electrical grid so they can still enjoy ultra-high definition television after we’re gone.

This time I bought a more heavy-duty switch and replaced it as I looked for natural solutions. We are committed to the environment so no chemicals, and that’s not a fair fight anyway. And what I learned is ants may like electricity, but not as much as they hate cinnamon. They hate the smell of it and if they inhale it, they can suffocate.

I blasted them and I felt kind of bad about it. Ants are critical to the ecological balance of our planet. But I also like lights in my garage. After two days of spraying the area with a cinnamon/water concoction and sprinkling more cinnamon around the area, the ants turned their attention elsewhere and our garage smelled like breakfast buns.

Either that, or they only left because they had all the information they needed to add to their world takeover database. 

Wherever they went, they’re marching. Sleep well.

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About The Author
David Meeks
David Meeks
David Meeks has never hesitated to speak truth to power. He’s uncovered shady coal mine operators in Alabama, corrupt politicians in Louisiana and supported single fathers in Florida. When New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Meeks, then Sports Editor of The Times-Picayune, refused an evacuation order. He commandeered a newspaper truck, assembled a team of journalists and won two Pulitzer Prizes. He has worked for the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and was the Managing Editor of USA Today Sports. He is Alabama-born and Michigan-raised, and today lives with his family in Washington, D.C.