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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Oh, When the Ants Go Marching In...

When friends from the States ask us about life in Costa Rica with lots of bugs and other tropical creepy-crawlies, we say, hey, we have bugs here that eat the other bugs, so no hay problema! Little did we know just how apt that phrase really was. But if we needed any confirmation, we got it recently when our rancho was literally invaded by ants. Not just a few ants, not just a bunch of ants, but thousands and thousands of ants! And they showed up in no time at all. We had done a load of laundry that morning in the rancho where our washer is located and there had been no sign of ants, just the normal iguana skittering away at our approach. But by mid-afternoon when Layne went out to get the barbeque grill for me, the place was swarming with them, great huge lines of mid-sized brown hormigas, busily trooping along the bottom wall, up the sides, under the cabinet. It was downright spooky!

Since we were uncertain whether to be concerned about this, we turned to our friend and neighbor Marcial, our go-to guy for all things Costa Rican. Even though it was Father's Day, he soon arrived at our gate to take a look. After studying the creatures up close, he assured us they were not only harmless but were actually "cleaning house." According to Marcial, this particular type of ant comes en masse and in the space of a few hours carries away the eggs of other ants, cockroach eggs, dead ants, wasp nest eggs and the larvae of all manner of other unwanted critters. Drawing our attention to one or two which were toting little white balls on their backs, he assured us those were eggs of some undesirable insect. He did say they carry a mean bite so avoid getting stung but he also said they are not out to get you. And sure enough, within a couple of hours, they had disappeared completely. Who knew?

We did have to keep little Winston, our new foster puppy, out of the rancho while the ants did their thing as he seems to relish nibbling on ants. With their reputation for a mean sting, we didn't want him getting a mouthful of those guys. Winston, of course, is getting a reputation of his own; you might even say he's world famous. (After all, this blog has readers in lots of other countries, including Russia, China, Germany, France, Japan, Latvia, Australia, as well as the U.S. and Canada!) This morning as we were breakfasting at Natural restaurant, friends Joni and Mike drove up and immediately recognized Winnie from having read my last blog post with his photo. It's not surprising that he makes friends everywhere he goes. For instance, at VGym this morning, as he was waiting patiently (well, sort of patiently) by the door while we did our workouts, everyone stopped to give him a pet and rave about what a pretty boy he is. Naturally, we agree. In fact, as some friends predicted, we have decided to adopt him. Big surprise, eh? He's just too nice a dog to let go, a real find, we think. We look forward to many joyful years with him in our lives.

With all the attention, Winston was pretty tuckered out by the time we got to Natural for breakfast so he fell dead asleep by Layne's chair while we enjoyed another fabulous meal at this new eating place. If you haven't made your way there yet, you'd better go soon before there's a waiting line to get in. The food is so delicious -- fresh, wholesome, much of it organic and beautifully presented. My new favorite is the House Special fruit, natural yogurt and homemade granola dish. Today I asked for extra granola and then learned just how carefully it is prepared, using coconut oil and honey instead of vegetable oil and sugar. The extra care really shows in everything proprietress Maria prepares. The fact that she herself is so charming and sweet is icing on the cake, so to speak.

By the way, she is looking for a new house to rent, nothing fancy but comfortable enough for her, her two children and her mom. Of course, we hope to find her a place here in Santa Eulalia, but if you know of a nice low-cost Tico home near Atenas with a yard for the kids, please let me know and I'll pass it along to Maria. Or drop in for lunch and tell her yourself!

Check out Layne's book "Moral Turpitude," available for only $2.99 at High adventure with corporate intrigue, danger and romance; from the exotic jungles of Borneo and Costa Rica to the erotic jungles of San Francisco. Sample or purchase at -- 


  1. Yep, 'tis the season! They might be back. We have had two days of them (not in the house thankfully) and now they are gone. Same thing last year.
    I was creeped out by them also, mainly because of their number.
    And YES avoid the bites. (experience)

  2. I've been bitten by these, not so bad. Doesn't last long. These ants don't have a permanent nest. They create a new nest every night by linking their bodies together, then off to the march the next morning. We've already had two visits from them so far this season, but they never go into the house though it would be easy enough for them.