Vantage point

Friday, September 05, 2008

Finicky American Ants

A week back or so, I realized that there were ants in our kitchen. A steady row of red ants stretched from the wall behind the stove to the crumbs of bread lying around on the kitchen counter. I cleaned up the counter, and the ants retreated to their lair. This is the first time that I have seen ants in the house since I came to the US. I moved into this apartment only in December so this is my first summer in it. I tried to recall if I remember ever reading that ants hibernate in the winter. All the ant-grasshopper stories suggest so, since in them ants dutifully collect food for the winter. So I wondered if I should tell the apartment supervisor about the ants and ask for an exterminator. Haven't done that yet. Procrastinating. But I might soon.

Anyway, the point of the story is the curious pattern I have observed in the ants' behavior. If there are crumbs or remains of "neutral" food lying around.... like bread, sugar, fried eggs, etc., the ants come out and get to work. But whenever we cook Indian food at home, and there are remnants of curry, dal, subji, or anything like that, the ants stay away. Just last night, we cooked some achari gosht and were too lazy to clean up later. The kitchen counter and the stove is covered with a lot of the same. And yet, not a single ant!

Turns out even the American ants find Indian food too spicy for their tastes.