There’s always a certain relief to getting home, no matter how good one’s vacation. After all, I had been gone nearly four weeks. There was a pile of mail in the hall, but not as much as I’d feared. Despite the jetlag, I had stopped at the shops for milk and vegetables on my way back from the station. First things first: a cup of tea.
The kitchen was swarming with ants. Hundreds, if not thousands, of them. They were going to and from the back door in a neat line, supporting a steady stream of winged ants headed in the direction of the door only — off to colonise and plague other householders. Except that the door was airtight and the ants had plastered it with their glistening black bodies and shimmering wings.
This swarm happens on the same July day every year. Last year it happened whilst I was at work. Friends arriving from Ghana opened the front door to find the hallway floor a writhing black carpet of ants. On that occasion, they bought insecticide and sprayed it liberally over the intruders — something I disapproved of strongly.
I reached for my trusty Dyson and vacuumed up every ant in sight. It was then apparent that they were coming from under my dishwasher. I pulled the machine out from under the unit and found discarded egg husks and serried ranks of insects waiting to venture out. A couple of passes with the vacuum and they were gone.
I went out for a run to shake the jetlag off. When I came back, more ants had emerged. I vacuumed them up and saw that they’d mined a long hole in the grout between the tiles and the wall. I rummaged around in my cupboard for the insecticide my friends had bought last year. With a heavy heart, I shook the can and sprayed it liberally down into the nest.