These pesky little blighters are starting to make their annual appearance. If you find what look like small sandy volcanoes in your otherwise pristine croquet lawn, you’ve got ants nests. If they get under your patio, the first sign you may notice is when you sprain your ankle as you trip clumsily over one of the slabs, undermined by these industrious creatures.

The average urban warrior may find the idea of killing ants anathema, but if you’re any sort of gardener you will want to off them as soon as you can. You can try ant powder, which may work but is a bit hazardous to any household pets that are curious (cats) or just plain dumb (dogs.) The preferred method is to tip a kettle of boiling water down the nest. This may seem brutal, but believe me it is effective.

Or you could try a more hi-tech approach, and electrocute them. This happened by accident a couple of weeks back. Butterfly World in St Albans had a very popular exhibit of a colony of leafcutter ants. As the name suggests, they spend their days cutting leaves to a manageable size, though having said that they’re some of the strongest creatures in the world, and can carry about a zillion times their own bodyweight. Now one of the ants got a bit distracted, and instead of cutting leaves decided to chew through a cable, and in the resultant flashing the current killed some of the colony. More importantly, the queen died. The rest of the colony went mad. They  either wandered about aimlessly and starved to death or, more oddly, turned cannibal and ate each other. About 8,000,000 ants died in just under two weeks.

A rather sad little tale, no?