I once scorched the earth. It was not anything political, just boiling hot water. One morning in the garden in our perfect green lawn there were two bumps. when I drew closer I notice that the bumps were alive, teeming with ants. This was suspicious and I knew it was an invasion. I was on my own, threatened by thousands of ants with a reproductive queen. Kill the queen and you kill the ants, but usually the queen ant is protected deep down in the earth. Se would defend her army to the bitter end, I was sure. I had no-one to advise me and I had visions of my perfect english lawn being destroyed by an army of ants. My solution was obvious – boiling water, a scorched earth policy. I remember back in my Brit days where every relation had an english lawn, it was the remedy.They always poured boiling water on the ants.
If Mr. Swiss had been at home, I am sure he would have known a better solution, but I was alone with this problem. I had visions of lumps and bumps everywhere in my wonderful flat lawn and so I returned to the drastic solution. I boiled water, not just the hot water from the tap, but the 100° C boiled version. I am sure I heard high pitched screams as the ants were being scorched in the boiling water. What a way to go, but I knew no mercy. It was either the ants or my wonderful perfectly growing lawn. Unfortunately I fogot that grass is not heat resistant, and my application of the scorched earth policy left brown marks in the lawn. Not only had I destroyed my ants nests, but also the lawn above the ants nests.
When Mr. Swiss returned I described my private battle with the ants. To ensure that there would be no return I emptied two bottles of mineral water, with gas, onto the scorched earth. I was once advised that this removes the oxygen from the nest, should there be any survivors. I was convinced there would be none, but I wanted to be on the safe side. It took the best part of summer for the bare patches in my scorched earth policy to regrow and Mr. Swiss and I had a few lively discussions about what to do the next time.
In the meanwhile our gardener paid his regular visit and reassured us that the lawn would grow again, no problem, it would just take time. He remarked that baking powder would have done the trick very well. For some reason baking powder is poison to ants and they die quietly and inconspicuously and there would be no scorched earth left behind.
It is always good to know these solutions afterwards and I now have an emergency supply of baking powder in the cupboard – you never know.