When I grabbed the mail from the box, the ants on top of the stack dashed for cover. A few started up my arm; I gave an involuntary 'eek' and whacked the stack on the ground to dislodge any ants that might still be on it. Some ran off and made it to safety. The rest? Squashed.
I brought the mail in and checked to make sure it didn't have any ant survivors before I laid the pile on the countertop. It was dinner time for the cats, but they could wait. I grabbed a rag and a pitcher of water, then went outside to clean the mailbox. This is what it looked like:
|All that black in the corners? Ants.|
Why were they in there? I don't know. The last time I retrieved things from the mailbox was Friday. There were no bugs then, and I'm sure Hubby Tony would have said something if there had been any problems on Saturday. In the end, it didn't matter why they were there; they could NOT stay! It felt cruel, but I poured water onto the floor of the mailbox, then used a wet rag to wash the stragglers off the sides and top.
Several hours later I went out to check on the box. Although there weren't any ants inside, there was a steady ant line up the wooden post from the grass, which disappeared into a crevice halfway up. I wanted to discourage them from taking up residence in the mailbox again, so I threw some red pepper flakes in the back of the box.
I hope the natural deterrent is enough, but you can bet I'll check before I stick my hand in there the next few days.