I’m half-awake and feel something tickling my face. I reach up to brush it off, and my index finger hits something small with many legs. My eyes are now open. The ant writhing between my thumb and forefinger comes into focus. I brush my face, checking for more ants. A sticky patch on my cheek tells me I’ve been drooling. Clustered around the watering hole of saliva on the edge of my pillow are five more ants. I jump out of bed and realize with horror that there’s something moving in my mouth. Reaching in, my fingers touch something small and alive. I pull out two very sodden ants who must have seen my mouth as an open invitation. How many more crawled in during the course of the night? Hundreds? I run to the bathroom and spend the next 10 minutes spitting real and imagined ants into the sink.
The worst part of an ant infestation is the paranoia. Once you find ants in your trashcan, your sink, your dishwasher, your bed, your mouth, you begin to imagine that they are everywhere. The feel of water evaporating from your skin is no longer a sensation you ignore. Instead, you search the area because even the slightest tickle on your skin could be an ant.
Ants begin to star in your dreams. Sometimes I wake up from dreaming there are ants in my bed to a reality where there are ants crawling on my legs under the covers. The distinction between the real and imagined begins to erode.
You learn things about ants you never wanted to know, dark secrets they left out of the sugar-coated Hollywood movie “A Bug’s Life,” like the fact that all ants can bite.
Over the course of the past 3 nights, I’ve slept in 3 different beds and 1 couch in an effort to escape them. After waking up with ants in my mouth, I moved out of my room. I spent the next night in my mother’s bed while she was out of town, but they found me there too. I woke to the now familiar sensation of an ant crawling across my face. It was early enough that I moved to the couch to continue sleeping. The third night, I slept in my sister’s bed. It was there that I finally found a sanctuary from the ants (though images of them still haunt me in my sleep).
During an ant infestation, you begin to ask yourself questions like “why now?”; “why me?”; and “what do they want?” It’s hard to imagine their motivation, but it starts to feel personal when, no matter how many times you spray them with vinegar and whatever other homeopathic extermination methods your mother researched on the internet, they keep coming back.
And maybe it is personal. After all, you don’t hesitate to end thousands of their lives in the name of a pristine sink.
For those who want visuals: