While working on the yard the weekend before last, in between successfully cleaning up one of the overgrown flowerbed areas, I figured I’d get a little head start on one of the garage window boxes in preparation for actually planting some flowers in them this summer. Specifically, this one over here:
We’d had these old red window boxes on the garage ever since we moved in, but never touched them, not even a little bit. This one wasn’t completely empty, though, and had what looked like a desert landscape from the previous owner. There was a succulent plant of some sort, and a couple of flat rocks:
I guess it made sense, since the overhang of the garage roof would keep it somewhat sheltered in all but the heaviest rain-blowing-sideways kind of rains, and it’s low maintenance — we haven’t touched it once in almost two years, and that succulent thingy hasn’t even died.
But the desert look wasn’t as desirable as the goal of a lovely bed of flowers, even if they’d have to be watered, so I figured I’d get started on cleaning it out.
I pried up the flat rock — and out came ants. Swarms and swarms and swarms of ants. I tried to snap a picture of all the ants, but I don’t think it’s possible to make them out against the specks of dirt and whatnot:
At that point, I got out a bottle of bug spray, sprayed the ants, and then started using a trowel to scoop out the dry, dusty dirt into a yard waste bag. But it wasn’t just a little anthill at the top — each shovelful revealed new swarms of ants, and it turned out to be ants all the way down to the bottom. The whole thing was just one big ant colony.
So in conclusion, I committed a massive ant genocide and emptied the window box of all its contents. This might also be a good time to show a closeup of how old and rotten this window box was:
The bright red paint seems to have held up pretty well for the most part, with not too much fading or chipping on the front, so I think it gave the illusion that the box was in better shape than it actually was. The wood was so brittle and rotten that a portion of the side actually started to crack off when I grabbed it, and even with the ants gone, it seemed pretty clear that the window box was past its prime and had to go.
And that’s the story of how it ended up sitting by the trash can:
It turned out to be just sitting on some brackets (which looked like the same variety you’d use for a shelf), and while it was attached to the garage with a couple of long nails, those were loose enough that I was able to easily pull it off without any tools.
The other window box was just as old and rotten (though thankfully ant-free!) so I removed it as well for consistency sake. I’ll spare you guys the closeups of just how much dirt and crud and spider nests had accumulated in the space between the boxes and the wall, and just end with this shot of the garage with the window boxes removed:
I know it doesn’t look so great in the above photo, but things always get worse before they get better, right?
How about you guys? Any stories of stumbling upon an infestation in an unexpected place? In our case I’m guessing that the dry, undisturbed environment created the perfect space for an ant colony to thrive, so that’s something we’ll have to keep in mind for the replacement window boxes (the details of which will be coming to the blog shortly!)