Service Story #91: The Ant Show, Episode 1 – An Intro to Nasty Antsis
by Bookmaker Jake
THIS SERVICE STORY IS DEDICATED TO ALL THE CLEAN PEOPLE OF PORTLAND WHO SUFFER FROM ANTSIS.
PRODUCED BY ANGELA AND JEFF OF MONTEVILLA
Angela and Jeff live in Montevilla, a humble shire set in the shadow of Mt. Tabor and the not so humble wilderness population it supports. They’re good people: honest, fun, upstanding members of The Garage Liberation Front, but Jeff and Angela don’t always feel good, because they’ve been afflicted by an accursed “mole” of nature they can’t control.
They have Nasty Antsis.
Antsis is a common, but heavily stigmatized disorder that effects 65.34% of all households in Portland. For most folks it takes many years of silent suffering, staying up late googling and watching Youtube videos on ants, before they decided to step forward and admit that they, too, have Antsis.
Please don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Antsis. The rat catchers and bug destroyers of old have long understood the role of disorders like Entry Hole Disorder, Systemic Death Production Disorder, and Nasty Antsis. All these actions play their part in drawing our magic lines between wilderness and civilization, but our ancient pest control wisdoms have been lost in the modern greed of The Industry and its many generic treatments. Only now, with a resurgence of unincorporated errant pest control operators, are we coining new language like “Nasty Antsis” to describe these old and ancient actions. Our teammate Bookmaker Jake likes to make a big todo about which words, labels, metaphors, and other representative signs, signifiers, and signatures we use to describe actions, but the rest of us at Storysold: Pest Control know better. We know words are the shit of the human brain. They’re made for waste. No words are needed to describe The Action we all know. Since the dawn of time, humans have encountered that part in our stories where the rain rolls in and they come face to face with the earth creatures who trail in like savage conquistadors onto their food prep areas. We can call that encounter a feeling, action, affection, or a disorder. The label doesn’t matter for shit. We’ve simply decided to call it “Antsis” because it sounds cool.
In the spirit of exploring our new language, we asked our human host Jake to describe his feeling of Antsis for us. He didn’t even blink. Like the one trick pony he is, Jake went straight for the Star Wars metaphor. He likened his ant encounters to that hair-raising moment when Luke entered The Joseph Campbell Cave and faced Darth Vader in heroic, single combat, only to discover that he wasn’t fighting anyone but himself…
“Fucking ants!” Jake cries after his countertop encounter. “Never again!” Then out comes his [not recommended] weapon of choice: Raid, Tarro, or eco-friendly ant-killing essential oils. Spray, spray, spray, and the cathartic experience of treating Antis ends with a floor littered with dead little ant bodies. It’s only later, after a few gulps of beer, does our human truly digest what had happened. “My God,” he realizes (gulp). “I killed them…but it’s not their fault…if only I wasn’t so, so dirty!” It’s that feeling of dirty, stinking, nastiness that prompts humans with Antis disorder to clean, and clean, and clean again.
Statistically, folks who suffer from Antsis have the cleanest homes on their blocks.
They clean because they care. They care about producing an orderly ant-free home that never triggers that same feeling of panic, chaos, and disorder that Luke felt when he killed Darth Vader and saw his face reflected back to him. No hero who cares deeply about preserving The Righteous Order of The Universe wants to feel out of control.
One of the other reasons why you may have never heard of Nasty Antsis is:
It’s a No Man’s Land between the pseudo sciences of psychology and pest control: Is the “antsy feeling” a nervous disorder? Or is it a disease like alcoholism that can be blamed completely on the individual and their genetics? Or do all those ants crossing The Line like villains really make humans feel Antsis? Naturally tempers flare in debates between pest control operators and therapists when they try to source the disorder. Psychologists can never accept the operators’ views, because it opens the door (sets a precedent) to challenge a long list of other disorders. Just imagine a world where a therapist trying to treat an alcoholic was forced to admit that, yes, it’s possible that the human host of Alcoholism had experienced enough systemic, workaday environmental disorder to “make them drink.” No profitable psychologist will ever admit that some feelings are maybe, just, simply thrust upon us like Antsis in springtime. They wouldn’t be able to call them “disorders” if they did that. Blaming The World for their troubles is almost the defining characteristic of all humans with “disorders” and “criminals” too. The Mental Health Industry would crumble and blow away like dust in the wind if they were forced to admit that real, trackable, killable house ants were responsible for making humans feel Antsis.
Some of us would happily file the action of psychology in the same overflowing drawer with witchcraft, sorcery, self help books, religiosity, and other such makers of prison hoochery; but we’re practical. We realize that doing so would harm the economy like pirating DVDs. If we bankrupted the generic swath of The Psychology Industry, who would we hire to round up the live action characters who aren’t able to host THE ONE normal, healthy, chemically balanced, ruggedly independent National Character humans were all trained to host? No doubt, The Pest Control Industry would simply kill any creepy crawly lifeform that ever made humans feel vulnerable, out of control, or Antsis…and we’d do it without any wishy washy sentimentality for the abject health of our planet.
And that’s why pest control operators and therapist will never, ever agree that ants make their customers feel Antis. We’re competitors, both in the business of controlling nature, hunting the same prey. At best the therapists will admit that ants “trigger” Antis, and we might admit that, in the long term, the best treatment for ants is beer.
Luckily, humans hosting characters in the control industries (and their customers) can all agree on one thing. It’s a common enemy that bonds them like The Lord of The Rings. They all hate long, philosophic rants by Wanna Be/Future Famous Authors like Bookmaker Jake. Nobody likes reading crap like this, because nobody likes reading service stories that seek to dissect, destroy, and offer no comforting/familiar narrative to compensate them for the time they invested reading it. For most humans reading philosophic rants is a lot worse than having ants. Engaging in philosophic conflict makes humans feel lost, out of control, in a world view built by the familiar industrylines they’ve been enacting since day one.
In fact, if we were a profitable psychologist we would brand the philosophic rants everyone hates as “Rantsis,” because it sounds cool. And cool sounding disorders are good for attracting clients and government grants. No doubt, the diagnostic manual for the new cool sounding disorder–“Rantsis“–will be filled with other cool sounding words, lines, and other marketable hooks like “Drink Up…It’s Not Your Fault After All.”
Yeah OK. We get it. Enough already. Sorry about all that. Feel free to unread the last ten paragraphs. Our service story here really begins with a text from Angela:
ANGELA: Hey Jake! Happy weekend. We have those large ants on our porch and fence. We tried some bait bait, but they still remain. Can you help?
STORYSOLD: You bet, but we’re about to lose our good ant hunting weather.
ANGELA: Needs to be cool, not hot?
STORYSOLD: Sun is good. I suggest doing a hunt when we get a few sunny days in a row. It’s a lot easier that way. Want I should text when weather is better?
ANGELA: Ok. Sure. We are around often!
A week later, the sun was up and the ants were popping all around the city. Angela and Jeff were out of town, but they gave us permission to cross The Line when they weren’t at home. Our workday previous to their ant hunt had been an effort: 3 exclusions in a tight rat infested crawlspace, 1 rodent set up, and 1 burrow dig/retrenching effort at Kim’s service story The Chicken Loving Neighbor. All that was to say, triggering Pest Predator to hunt carpenter and house ants in Angela and Jeff’s yard was a very welcome change of pace.
The first act of our service story was applying a non-repellant around the foundation of their home. That served two purposes: a) ants naturally have to cross the foundation to enter home (or porch), so the chemical spray Predator sprays in their path will kills them coming and going; and b) even though most operators will tell you that The Industry staple for foundation sprays (a product called Termador) is a “non-repellant,” Predator knows from experience that it has repellant properties..and that’s useful in the finding of carpenter ants. Predator knows that if he sprays an edge or corner of a house that’s an entry point for a colony or satellite colony, the ants will appear almost immediately.
After we finished our foundation application we were able to mostly rule out the bottom half of their home, and then turn our attention to the clear trail Angela had already identified…running to (or from?) the porch from (or to?) the fence. Predator spent a while tracking both ends of the trail, which both fizzled out with wandering/scouting ants. At first read, Predator was tempted to say the trail originated on the porch, but the fact that he identified the ants as Camponotus vicinus and the trail was climbing from the fence line to the top of the porch, that led him to believe that an ant beachhead was developing under the siding, higher on the house. Vicinus are known for their climbing skills.
Predator knew the rain was, once again, on its way, so he did a light spray around the columns and set a ton of bait on his chemical to encourage the ants to track across it. As usual, a few of carpenter ants stopped to feed, but most of them continued their dogmatic pursuit of whatever they’d found before we entered the scene. Unlike house ants who get hooked on the sugar baits almost robotically, carpenter ants are more fickle about their foraging tasks. In hopes of making a more attractive offer, Predator placed some granular bait along the trail. To his surprise, the sugar bait still seemed to be the winner.
“Yum! Nature never feed us sugars like this!”
While Predator waited to see if the carpenter ants were going to take the bait, he went on a house ant hunt around the property. There were so, so many trails, and Predator snickered at his own cleverness ever time he sprayed mass globs of sugar bait on his prey with his new spray bottle loaded with Tarro.
That video was taken on the front steps. Predator found active trails along sidewalk, along walkway in front, next to steps down to back patio, corner of porch to right of gate, cool grape vine tree thing in back, to right of garage, and a few next to bbq near side door. Here’s a few more proof of work photos:
[ next to garage ]
When the day’s ant hunt reached an end, our human drove us home feeling good. No doubt Angela and Jeff would get some relief from Predator’s treatment of Nasty Antsis. That good feeling lasted 1.34 hours before Predator did the math and realized that we’d be very lucky if we’d knocked out the whole carpenter ant colony all in one hunt…
He was sure the old antsy feeling would return like withdrawal.
“Is killing them all the only way to treat for Nasty Antsis?” Guide asked her teammates.
“No,” Predator replied straight-faced. “We could continue to let them feed on Angela and Jeff’s home.”
“That doesn’t sound that bad,” Guide said, suddenly feeling a little antsy. “Maybe they could share their home with their wild creature friends?”
When Bookmaker heard that he laughed and mocked his teammate. “Yeah! It’s those crazy humans’ fault for building a house in The Tabor Wilderness. Their disorder should be treated with therapy and legal drugs, until they learn to accept responsibility for The World and all its ants. Ha! Clearly the humans are the source of this infestation.”
There was a long silence. Then Predator said, “I don’t think that’s a good business model.”
“No shit Sherlock!” Bookmaker laughed. “But just think of all the money we’ll make the therapists!”
Predator ignored his Asshole teammate and turned to Guide. “I think we should treat this infestation of Antsis like classic pest control operators…and kill them all. That’s the only way we can give Jeff and Angela relief.”
Guide thought about that for a minute. Then she nodded her head and said, “I agree. Let’s make sure we kill em’ all.”
Our treatment of Angela and Jeff’s Carpenter Antsis will continue in another exciting episode of The Ant Show. Probably on another good ant hunting day in July.
Before we knew it, it was August. The rats outside Angela’s garage had continued to return like the final scare of a horror film, the moles were still carving up her yard, but Predator’s hunt had cured The Nasty Antsis.
ANGELA: And also–the ants died with one application.
STORYSOLD: I was wondering about the ants. That’s good news!