Second night in Mzuzu: african ants take over


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Africa » Malawi » Northern » Mzuzu
June 2nd 2010
Published: June 8th 2010
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On our first day here, we visited the Mzuzu downtown and market. The downtown is a little less developed then the one in Lilongwe, however the market seemed a lot better. In Mzuzu I had to get used to having little water available and sometimes shut off completely, so far it’s been bucket showers and filling up buckets whenever the water was running again. Apparently it’s not usually like this here, the university staff says the main pump generator is broken, hopefully it gets fixed soon!!! As I was getting my new bug net set up in my room, I was called to the kitchen as ants where making their way under the kitchen door. I started spraying RAID under the door until the ants stopped coming in that way. As I was thinking it was just a minor ant problem, I noticed them coming from the dining room window. The window screen was covered with ants and finally they started entering that way. Mike and I started spraying the window with raid however, we noticed the ants were coming into the house from the vents, and failing down from the ceiling. We checked the bathroom window as ants where coming in through there and the bathroom vent. They started coming from the toilet room window and vents as well and then It was my room. We sprayed as much raid as we could until our cans went empty on us. It was at this point I realized our house was going to be taken over by a fire ant colony and I was thinking we had to move to veronica’s and Ian’s house ( our coordinators) . I took all of my stuff and moved it into the living room, which at this point was ant-free. The other interns went to check the outside of the house. The backyard ground was full of them. The back side of our house was covered , as it looked like a bunch of thick black lines moving on the house brick towards the next accessible entry point. A lady nearby herd one of our interns screaming, she brought along two other men, fully dressed with big jugs of motor oil. They started circulating the house and pouring it around the house perimeter and within minutes, the ants seemed to be disappearing. The lady came up to me and said “It’s over, they are gone”. She explained to me that because the temperature in Mzuzu is so cold, the ants are attracted to the heat of our house and therefore the whole colony will try to take over. Luckily an easily accessible product such as motor oil repelles ants quickly and it’s effect last will last longer. As scary as this incident was, we got lucky that the ants did not start invading while we were asleep. Another night in Africa, another adventure!

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