When Ants Go Marching… (Issue 1089)

In which we are reminded that, if prospects don’t bite on the first bait we offer to get their attention, we could switch bait rather than dishing up more of the same.

“I have ants in the kitchen”… I dictated a text message to my office building landlord as I chased a half-dozen large ants around the sink and countertop, crushing each of them, one by one, with my right thumb.

“What kind of ants?”, she responded. “Sugar ants or carpenter ants?”

“Big ones…carpenter ants…”

“That’s awful,” came the reply. “I’ll call, Mike, our maintenance guy.”

An hour passed. I bagged a few more ants. She texted again.

“Mike says we’ll spray the building exterior day after tomorrow. I will pick up ant traps for your kitchen.”

The following morning, when I arrived for work, I flipped on the kitchen light and surveyed the kitchen sink. All quiet …. until I raised the faucet handle to draw water. A half-dozen ants raced away from the faucet base, scattering in all directions.

At 9:00 am, when the ant bait stations arrived, eight to the box, I read the instructions, unsealed three of the bait stations and placed them on the kitchen counter, one in each corner and one behind the sink faucet. “You’re in for it now,” I thought, and headed to my office to work.

Curious, an hour later, I tippy toed back into the kitchen to watch the festivities. Again, about a half-dozen ants were marching around the countertop and sink. I watched for five minutes. Each ant at some point walked past the bait stations without giving them a glance. In some cases, they passed glance-free several times.

I left them to their work and returned to mine for an hour, then took a break for another look.

Again, a half dozen ants marching past (and, in two cases, over) the bait stations without giving them a second thought.

I called a colleague. “You know,” she said, “carpenter ants like wood. Maybe their little tummies are full and they’re just coming to the sink for a drink. They’re not taking your bait.”

“Ha, ha, very funny.”

“No, seriously. They eat wood. They want water. They aren’t attracted to your bait stations. So, you could put out more bait stations and hope they change their minds …or… you could try a different bait.”


Nick Miller trains banks and credit unions to attract and expand relationships with business clients through better skills, sales strategies, and execution. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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