An unexpected partner in crime

April 5, 2023 — by Jonathan Si
Graphic by Jonathan Si
Don Quixote — but instead of fighting windmills it’s ants in my bathroom.

I hate bugs. 

As the self-designated bug killer at home, it’s my job to confront and slay every insect I see — sometimes I wish I got paid for it. But one fateful afternoon changed my entire outlook on bugs, or at least some of them.

It was summer vacation, and I came back home after an exhausting trip to the library to work on college application essays. I went to wash my hands, and all of a sudden, I saw … ants! Dozens of them. All over. The trail led all the way to the bathroom and into a small, obscure hole in the wall.

Rather than calling my parents or alerting anyone of this infestation, I was determined to win this battle myself. Tip for anyone fighting ants: Use tape, specifically paper tape because of how easy it is to tear. It’s like a paper towel, but there’s no chance of any stubborn survivors wiggling their way out, and it’s carcass free! It also serves as an easy way to block out any small crevices in the wall.

So there I was, an amateur exterminator, armed with my trusty roll of tape killing individual ants all over the bathroom, and as I looked around the room, a pile of ant corpses caught my eye. 

A spider, the lonesome soldier fighting on its own against the advancing colony, sat on its web in the corner of the room, littering my bathroom floor with his neatly wrapped, bundles of joy. 

My first instinct was to crush and tape it up with the other aggravating insects, but the compassionate side of me won for once. We had a common enemy and, besides, it was just one, cute little spider in the corner! 

So there we were, the spider and I tag teaming and removing the ants one by one. I would come home, kill every ant in sight — maybe donate a few to my fellow exterminator — and rinse and repeat. As ineffective as it was, I had already found and covered the hole that I presumed most of the ants were crawling from, so all I had left were the stubborn, little stragglers. 

But unfortunately, about a week later, my mother decided to do one of her spontaneous cleaning sprees around the house. After she ran out exclaiming she found a couple of ants in the bathroom, I tried to assure her I had the situation under control. 

She, of course, like the many times she impulsively made decisions for me, didn’t believe me.

Not only did she begin doing my job killing the ants (could she be any more shameless, stealing from an unemployed young adult?), she paraded the room with no sense of mercy. So when I realized the little spider was still left there unattended, I knew it was over. The impending dread washed over as I saw my mother approach the mass of corpses in the corner.

“What is all this!” she exclaimed. 

And before I could even open my mouth to explain the situation, she crushed the little guy with a wad of toilet paper. 

Oh the humanity!

Never before had I been so devastated at the loss of a mere arthropod; I even thought of replacing my friend with a random spider outside, but deep down, I knew it was irreplaceable. It wasn’t just some random creature I used to kill ants — it was a friend. I still hate bugs. If I ever see an ant on the ground, or god forbid in my house, I will kill it. But spiders will always hold a special place in my heart. I still might kill them, though, just a little less maliciously.

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