2005-02-26: Of Ants and Water

I spent a good chunk of today doing yard work - first, taking the hedge shears to all the tall grass tufts that were sticking out, then taking the reel mower to the actual grass. The front lawn doesn't look great, but it does look better than it used to.

So, I noticed a few ants in my kitchen today. Every now and then I see the odd ant in my kitchen, which I just chalk up to the windows that can't be closed all the way. This, on the other hand, was a convoy. Swooping in like an A-10, I squashed them, and then started wondering where they came from. Perhaps I should have saved a prisoner for interrogation. It was as I made this realization, that more motion caught my eye - more ants. I watched them closely, and then noticed they were coming from the corner of the door. This caused me to grumble, as I figured that the water seal had cracked enough that raiding parties of ants were able to make their way through it. So, I got down lower and noticed that the wood down there was soft. And by soft, I mean so soft that if you pushed on it with your finger, it crumbled easily. I took off the moulding and removed a good chunk of the dead wood, as you can see here. More ants came through the hole as I did so, which caused me to discover that Artoo is indeed a great help when it comes to ants. Apparently 175mph winds are a bit too strong for your average ant, and thus Artoo became a really big electric ant-eater.

This necessitated a trip to Home Depot for ant poison, as well as some foam sealant for the route the ants were taking into the house. I also happened to notice some weed+feed, as well as some orange + avocado fertilizer, while I was over there. Considering that I've meant to feed that orange tree for some time now, and the weed situation in the yard is becoming unpleasant, I picked those up while I was there and took it all back to the house.

After a bit of poking and prodding, I learned that the ants weren't using the door frame as a conduit into the house - no, they appeared to be moving into it, and were also swarming on the right side of the doorway. There were a fair number of pupae being carried from somewhere outside, towards the house, so I can be fairly safe in assuming that this was a fresh move. I noticed that among the other issues with the house, some of the screw holes in the bottom of the door frame were empty, resulting in wonderful little entryways, almost custom made for ants. Ants were moving in and out of those holes, which caused me to grumble quite a bit. Knowing I thus needed to research the situation, I pulled up the linoleum a bit and discovered the root cause behind it all (as well as the funny swelling under the floor in that area): the floor was wet, far from anywhere it would've made sense to have leaked from. Apparently the ridiculous amount of rain we've had here, coupled with the fact that the porch roof was off, allowed water to get to the front door, which wasn't properly weathersealed. That water then managed to get into the floor and do Evil Things (tm), such as rot my molding and the entryway floor. Some exploratory surgery (taking a screwdriver and stabbing the wet wood) demonstrated that the wet plywood went all the way through. My efforts to remove the door frame were at first met with frustration, but then later on with success, as I had to pretty much demolish the little ramp leading up to the door in the process. After that, and vacuuming out the ant colony thus disclosed, I went to sleep.