The Ants Aren’t My Friends

My beef isn’t especially with the chemical ingredients in Raid. The active ingredients in the ant spray I just used — imiprothrin and cypermethrin, if you must know — are insect neurotoxins¹ that aren’t dangerous to humans². At least not in the 0.2-percent combined concentration in this can.

dead ants, courtesy of Raid

My beef is with the inescapable “country fresh scent” that overtakes the room you spray it in and in the adjacent rooms. Which, when you’re targeting the master bathroom, means both bathroom and bedroom are polluted with a noxious, perfumy cloud.

All because of some pissants sugar ants.

To back up a bit: We’d been using vinegar to thwart the approach of these ants, coming from the ceiling and, apparently, seeking water from the shower drain. The vinegar erases their trails and confuses them. It worked OK. But each time, after about a day, they’d find their way back and establish their little bucket brigade anew.

Coming home from work last night, there were putting on a particularly impressive tour de force, and I gave up on holistic methods.

And this is <hack> <cough> <wheeze> how the fine makers of Raid thank me?

Serves me right, I guess.

¹ “Neurotoxin” is a bad-ass word, no?

² Cypermethrin does kill beneficial insects, be forewarned. But there aren’t any of those in our bathroom. Also, it’s hella-bad for fish.

Jenn’s rebuttal:

So there was no warning before Brad unleashed Operation Enola Gay on our poor, unsuspecting bathroom. Admittedly, he had tried several other non-toxic methods — caulking holes, cutting tree limbs that touched the house, and the aforementioned vinegar — before pulling out the big guns.

I, however, was fuming more than that can of Raid because there was no going near that cloud of nastiness for hours. We even left home to kill time at the movies until the air was tolerable again.

But maybe Brad’s right. Surely the label wouldn’t lie about toxicity to humans? Well, except for the occasional headache, dizziness, burning or itching of the face, airway irritation, rhinitis, sneezing, pulmonary edema, cough, dyspnea, wheezing, chest pain, bronchospasm, rare cases of respiratory paralysis and cardiopulmonary arrest, eye irritation, burning, itching, corneal damage, and periorbital edema. And that’s just the imiprothrin.

As for cypermethrin? Exposed lab rats give birth to offspring with developmental delays, produce abnormal sperm, and have increased genetic chromosomal abnormalities in bone marrow and spleen cells. It’s also classified as a possible human carcinogen because it causes an increase in the frequency of lung tumors in female mice. After household treatments, it persists in the air and on walls and furniture for about three months.

But other than that, it’s completely safe.

The irony is that the ants returned a week later, so it was all for naught.  But this weekend a friend tipped us off about the wonders of a liquid boric acid concoction. We’ll report on its effectiveness after giving it a go.

Brad’s rebuttal to Jenn’s rebuttal:

  • “One week later” = 12 days later, which is how long she’s held off in letting me post this.
  • The ants have returned to the bathroom, but via a different path, and not in force as before. Listen, I’m not proud of the chemicals, but it’s 0.01 percent concentration of each of them. I’m very happy to have a non-“thrin” method to try.
  • The noxious cloud that made the bathroom smell sickly sweet and render it unusable for hours was the “country fresh scent.” Which, why the crap do they put that in there?
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