Ants are a serious problem in the tropics. It’s even more serious where it stays humidly hot most of the year. The Philippines is like that. Here, ants will get into everything and on everything. It’s nearly impossible to keep them out of my house. They don’t get into my food, however, because of some techniques I’ve developed over the years. One technique works so well, my oldest sister-in-law (who cooks breakfast for me every morning) uses it.
Once the scout ants find unprotected food left out, it seems like the entire colony arrives in short order to finish it off if they can. It doesn’t matter if it’s in dishes on the floor or on a table with a single pedestal. It doesn’t matter if it’s indoors or outdoors. They’re very good at finding food wherever it may be.
I can’t tell you how many types of ants exist in the Philippines, but I’ve seen a dozen types of all sizes. The most annoying are the tiny ones I can barely see. These are the ones that get into the sugar container in the brief time it’s open. They’re the ones that crawl on my skin and go unnoticed until I feel them moving.
My sister-in-law sometimes makes breakfast for me before I’m even awake to eat it. I don’t know why she does it, but she does. She does the same thing I did in the past. She takes a single dinner plate, sets a small bowl on it and then puts my plate of food on the bowl. She then puts water in the bottom plate.
I should take a picture of how it looks, but you should be able to imagine it: A plate with water in it, with a bowl in the center and another plate on top. Oh, she also covers that top plate with either a paper towel or another plate, upside-down.
Ants won’t go in the water, therefore they can’t get into the food. Water seems to stop other insects as well. This isn’t something she does every day. Most of the time, I’m awake long before she shows up – she lives in another house in my compound.
Dealing with ants is just another facet of living in the Philippines, something I really didn’t have to worry about when I lived in the United States.