I was ten years old when, along with my 14-year-old neighbour, I developed the world’s first carpenter ant extermination system. It was genius. Pure, simple genius. And we would have made a lot of money out of the patenting and selling of our innovative pest control solution if it hadn’t been for those mean ladies who stopped us.
We built our prototype in the alleyway that ran between our properties with simple items: A galvanised washtub, several 12-16 inch cuts of wood, a couple of metal coat hangers, some fishing line, a piece of saltwater taffy, and our “secret solution”.
The washtub was placed upright with the wood placed along the outer rim leading up from the ground, acting as planks for the ants to climb. We then created a suspension system with the coat hangers and fishing line so that the taffy could be suspended above the washtub which was filled with our solution.
The idea was simple: The carpenter ants would smell the candy and begin walking up the planks to the top of the basin. Then, to get the candy, they would leap into the air. Only they would most likely miss their target, causing them to fall into the solution, killing them instantly (or at least quickly).
Sadly, it was the secret solution that seemed to be our invention’s downfall.
You see, we each raided our homes’ cleaning supplies for the solution then mixed it all into the washtub. And the moment our mothers found out what was going on, they started screaming and yelling at us, pulling us away from the solution. My friend’s mum tipped out the bucket then his father began spraying down the alley to wash away our magic potion.
After that, it seems that we were watched a lot more carefully when we were playing together, so we had to be careful not to get caught doing anything that might make our parents mad. (Note I said we worked not to get caught. We didn’t stop doing stupid things. Not even when we were adults.)
It’s a shame that they interrupted us though because I truly do think that we were on the brink of an amazing invention. It was much better than our Bug Circus plan. (Though not as good as some of the ideas we came up with later in life.)
Sadly, my dear friend passed away last spring, so we will never again be able to do such stupid things. But I will always have memories of the stupid things we did manage.