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Doug Clark: The ants go dying, two by two

Sun., March 21, 2010, 1 a.m.

The attack at Clark Manor began like most Stephen King novels: innocently.

I was sitting on my couch enjoying some mindless TV one night last week when I felt a strange tickling sensation on my right hand.

I looked down. Funny. I never noticed that skinny black mole before.

Or that it had …


My lovely wife, Sherry, watched with bemusement as I jumped off the couch and ran yelling “agh, agh” into the kitchen.

I’m not one of those catch-and-release sissies who worries that a bug might be somebody’s reincarnated uncle.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a deep respect for lower life forms, especially the ones that can be grilled to a tasty medium rare or turned into a nice belt.

As far as insects go, well, if God didn’t want us to annihilate them He wouldn’t have given us Raid.

I shook the critter into the sink and turned on the water. “Click” went the garbage disposal switch.

Whirrrrr …

“That’ll teach you,” I hollered into the drain.

Machismo restored, I returned to the den where I promptly saw several more of the beasties sauntering across an end table as if they owned the joint.

“This isn’t right,” I muttered.

The more we looked the more it dawned on us. Ants – both winged and wingless – had launched an invasion of the den.

Sherry pointed to the wall.

I looked closer. An ant battalion was marching out of a light switch like rush hour traffic on the Division offramp.

It gave me an extreme case of the willies.

I’ve been around plenty of vermin. But that’s when I’m interviewing Spokane council members at City Hall. A guy’s den is a different matter. This is a holy sanctuary, like the Vatican or Vegas.

Seeing all those ants in my Man Cave repulsed me worse than the time I sat in on a Kevin Coe court appearance.

You may recall how I destroyed an infestation of box elder bugs that had blanketed the outside of Clark Manor a couple of summers back.

But a den invasion? That was beyond my bug-murdering capabilities.

Like a smart Mafia boss, I knew it was time to hire a hit man.

So I made a call. On Friday, Aaron the exterminator showed up carrying a silver spray canister of doom.

Aaron took one look at my unwanted houseguests and said the two words no homeowner ever wants to hear.

“Carpenter ants.”

Those are the ants that get inside your walls, chewing up the infrastructure as they burrow and expand their nest. Unlike the north-south freeway project, say, these ants actually work at a steady pace.

But Aaron is a veteran to the extermination game.

“I’ve been in places where you don’t want to go,” he told me.

Like the time he was called out to kill spiders and mice in the basement of an old funeral home. He was down there alone at night amid all the caskets and preparation tables.

“It was creepy,” he said.

On another job, Aaron found himself inching his way through a dark and damp crawl space when something wet and hideous suddenly smacked him hard in the face.

“I screamed,” Aaron admitted, looking sheepish. “The homeowner wanted to know if I was all right.”

He was. Aaron’s subterranean assailant was a clammy fat toad.

Carpenter ants would be barely a challenge to such a man.

Before he started spraying, Aaron promised to kill the insect interlopers without killing the Clarks, which was one of my top priorities.

“But will the ants suffer?” I asked hopefully.

“Not as much as we’d like, I suppose,” said Aaron.

Ah, spring is such a wonderful time of rebirth. Praise the lord and pass the pesticide.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


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