In the tropics, bugs are a fact of life. From the teeny-tiny ants that get attracted to a drop of water, to big fat rhinoceros beetles, bugs are all around us. Bugs that bite and make us itchy, bugs that strip a plant of its leaves, bugs that infiltrate any food source not sealed up, bugs, bugs and more bugs.
Of all the bugs, probably the largest group are the ants. And there are many different types of ants, none of which are my friends. This week, we had a run-in with the house-cleaning ants.
The house cleaning ants have colonies in the thousands. They normally come just before a rainfall, and if you're unlucky, they might target your house, or in our case, our hostel. They invade for a couple hours, clean up all the mess (take away bug corpses etc), and then pack it up and leave a few hours later.
Tuesday afternoon, a steady stream of ants started to parade in. Not to worry, I assured everyone- it's gross to see them all, but if you just head out for a few hours, they'll be gone. It's not something you can really spray for: a neighbour of mine once tried, ant corpses littering her home, but she didn't get rid of them all until they were ready to go, and then she had to clean up all the ones she had killed. So everyone in the hostel headed out to Tranquil Seas, to enjoy live music and tapas.
A few hours passed. I returned. Ants still everywhere- a sheet of them across the floor, the wall blanketed by them. I gave up on the idea of waiting for them to go, and took to them with a vengeance with bug spray, boratic acid powder (between the two, I think I may have created some cell mutations in my body, maybe shortened my life a bit), and a broom, knocking down what I could. Useless- for every one that I killed, there were 100 more in its place. Finally, I adapted- moved my kids up to my room, fixed up our spare room, and relocated people to my house for a sleep over. The ants had already left the upper floor, so it was just a few people that came over. Fortunately, the next morning, the ants were gone without a trace.
In the past, I've only once in 13 years have the invasion of housecleaning ants in my home, so I'm hoping for the same luck with the hostel
Mel is a Canadian who's been living in Roatan for over a decade. Before being a single mom of 2, she used to travel around the world as a dive instructor. She looks forward to the opportunity to meet many other travelers in her hostel.