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Pantry Ants

It’s a sure sign of spring – the ants show up looking for the party on the pantry shelves, marching dutifully to nowhere in particular. They’re so busy! All those little legs purposefully striding with no sense of direction. This annual pilgrimage accosts me at the core – violating the sanctity and sanitation of my precious pantry. And yet, they turn a blind eye, impervious to my anxiety and contempt. Oi vey.

A truly fabulous addition to the family, this pantry was created from enclosing an unused porch as part of our kitchen makeover four years ago. With three busy children, we had been clenched in a tight squeeze for storage in the kitchen, with our garage a de facto extended pantry, which the field mice really appreciated. Hope all those gnawed tortilla chips and pasta didn’t mess up their low-carb aspirations.

The new walk-in pantry was a revelation. So many shelves! So much room! Right next to the kitchen! Let me fill it right up! No more stepping outside to grab pasta or beans or appliances – everything was blissfully in reach. Ahhh. I was smitten.

Then, on a fresh spring morning about a year after the construction was done, I opened the pantry doors and what do I see?? A swarm of little black specks moving about. Cue the Psycho music! My brand-new pantry, full of ants! I was aghast, in despair. I certainly didn’t mind ants in the garage but this, THIS was untenable. Like that first scratch on your car, the first fight with your boyfriend, that first defiant “no!” from your sweet baby – this was just one of those sad little reality checks.

Determined to take my pantry back, I bought ant traps and spray. Cleared all the shelves and discovered the underground railroad of antdom. Cookie crumbs, Pepperidge Farm goldfish dust, pop tart pieces, dog food nuggets, and smears of peanut butter everywhere! How long had these ants been feasting undetected? Ugh, I didn’t want to know. I sprayed and wiped and cleaned and buffed. Placed traps in the corners and long the back wall, twice as many as recommended. I hunted down the entry point and blasted the Raid. RAID! So aptly named. Still they came. Brandishing a caulk gun, I channeled my inner Annie Oakley and filled every crack, every crevice, every gap. Patched and puttied around the outlets. Rinse and repeat. Again.

Nothing was to return to the pantry until it passed inspection! That bag of whole wheat flour from my South Beach Diet kick a few years ago? Denied. Half-empty oatmeal container that would expire in 6 months? Time’s up! Beignet mix from that trip to New Orleans five years prior? Who dat? All those loose packs of flavored sugar for water bottles that the kids loved? Gone, gone, gone. (Of course they’re tightly sealed and no ant issue but I just do not care for them. Buh-bye.)

Gingerly, delicately, I replaced the pantry populace, somewhat decimated by the antvasion. My open dry goods found a new home in those clear sistema containers (Home Goods to the rescue!). Surely that little rubber gasket will thwart any break-in attempts, right? I breathed a sigh of relief when, after a few more weeks of close inspection (a creepy throwback to obsessively checking my kids’ heads for months after getting rid of lice), there were no more ants. Yes, this pantry is clean. (Of course, I breathed a little easier not knowing this cycle was to repeat itself every spring. I’m handling it much better now.)

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