Ants in your… undies — a possible deterrent


Americans have a saying, “you have ants in your pants.” When we are squirmy, we’re called antsy. For the most-part it’s a saying, but what if we really do have ants in our pants, or shirt, or dress, or underpants, or bra?

I did! It was 2013 and I was at Hotel Boca Brava on Isla Boca Brava in Panama, having a fabulous time sleeping in an open-air dorm on a hammock that hung from wall to wall. Snorkeling in the Gulf of Chiriquí was another great snorkling experience. (I swam over what may have been a huge Sting Rey for a while!)

cute cartoon antIn my journal I wrote:
“I got out of bed at around 8. I had a fast shower (cold water only) even though I planned on swimming. I donned the same dress (and bra) that I wore yesterday. I had hung them on the outside clothing line overnight so they were nice and fresh.”
But I learned my lesson about hanging clothes overnight on a clothing line strung between trees in a tropical garden.

My clothes smelled air-fresh as always when I took them down and put them on. But it wasn’t long before I felt odd tickling sensations. Excuse me men, but I must elaborate… the tickling was in my bra! A very odd feeling as a woman might imagine. I finally had to find the nearest bathroom and figure this out. I took off my shirt. That didn’t help. I gave in and removed my bra. Wow! There were ants crawling around in it, and on me!

How could this be?

I hadn’t realized that ants are great climbers. They’d made their way up the tree that hosted the clothesline and were all over that line!

Perhaps this is a lesson to wear only white undies as you travel. I don’t recall the color of my bra. But I’d certainly not seen the ants on it when I dressed.

So… what can you do to avoid this from happening to you as you line-dry your clothing as you travel?

I’m not a fan of killing ants. They are important to our ecosystem. But a natural repellent would certainly be welcome.

Perhaps the answer to ants is coffee grounds

As BC Pest Control tells us on its website, placing coffee grounds (used coffee not unbowed or instant) repels many (but not all) ants. Perhaps we can save our grounds (or the hotel/hostel’s grounds) and spread them around the pole that hosts our clothesline. Coffee grounds don’t kill or harm the ants. They simply deter because the smell is strong. (Ants have learned to avoid them because they can cause the ants to lose their way home.).

What I don’t know yet though is how long the grounds are effective. So I’m suggesting that you don’t hang your clothes out overnight or all day.

I can’t promise this will work, but if you’re where there is dirt, where there are plants or flowers, and you’re line-drying, you bring some coffee grounds out with you when you do your laundry.


Thank you to @Jennifer and FreePNGClipArt.com for the cute ant.

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