Costa Rica AntsCosta Rica Cost Of Living Update: 16.9 ounces  (500ml) of Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil — $6.40

When I was a child, I spent Saturday afternoons watching scary movies with my father in our basement. Back then, there was no Netflix, DVR, or even a Blockbuster Video. Just Chiller Theater. This television show opened with a cartoon hand coming out of a grave, and eating the “Chiller” letters one by one. It probably wasn’t the best programming for a five year old, and each week my mother screamed down the stairs at my father to shut it off.

“Bill, put Bugs Bunny back on or she’s going to have nightmares!” she hollered while we watched Godzilla vs Mothra, The Blob, and Planet of the Apes. And like most things my mother yelled about, she was right: I did have nightmares. But I loved every minute of those times with my dad.

This brings me to the 1958 movie, Them. Based on the improbable, but no less entertaining, hypothesis that nuclear testing could create a colony of giant-sized mutant ants, the movie delivers a rollercoaster ride of suspense that could send any five year old to therapy.

Fast forward to today and I can’t help but think that this movie wasn’t too far from reality. I’m getting used to a lot of things about living in Costa Rica, but I just can’t get over our ant issue. It’s not that I don’t like ants, or have any type of bug phobia. It’s more about the shear number of them that begin invading our house once the rainy season starts.


They march single file under the doors and through each and every electrical outlet like they’re preparing for battle. As I watch them, I feel as if I should be selling war bonds or handing tools to Rosie the Riveter. Sometimes we come home from doing errands to find the outside of our house completely covered in ants.

“Uh… let’s come back in a few hours,” we say, forfeiting the fight before one grenade is launched.

Unless you enjoy breathing carcinogenic fumes on a daily basis, spraying insecticide is useless. The ants come back. Someone suggested using cinnamon sticks, but since I can’t find any at the store, I started dumping cinnamon powder all around the baseboards and kitchen counters.  This has a nice effect of making my house look filthy while simultaneously causing it to smell like I’m cooking an apple pie.

The ants are a nuisance, but how can I complain since they were here first? To them, I’m the one who is part of a colony of mutant, giant-sized monsters. There are days when living in harmony with my environment can be difficult, but the monkeys howling outside my window remind me that there is an eco chain that should never be broken, especially with something as toxic as a can of RAID. I know from experience that in time this ant invasion shall pass.

I suppose things could be worse: it’s not Planet of the Apes in my backyard yet, but you’ll be the first to know if the monkeys start knocking at my door and establishing a new rule of law.

And although the giant moths I do see aren’t quite the size of Mothra, this is Costa Rica… the rainy season has just begun.


This is what happens when moms leave the dads in control of the television.

About Nadine Hays Pisani

Nadine is the author of the best-selling series, Happier Than A Billionaire. Join her as she navigates living as an expat in the sometimes confusing, always beautiful, country of Costa Rica.
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  1. Carol Brown says:

    Thank you Nadine,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your books and am now enjoying your blog. We look forward to visiting Costa Rica this September. Please continue to blog and share your adventures with us all.

  2. Lanny y Lin says:

    Hola Nadine and Rob. You might know that I would come across this information a day after our pool guy caused an ant ruckus in our garden. I sprayed the ants (carrying eggs) with something I purchased from the Auto Mercado in Tamarindo, seemed to work, I’ll let you know. It was the largest swarm (is that correct terminology for zillions of ants?) I have ever seen in person. I wonder if I did the right thing? What if they eat mosquitoes?
    Hasta Luego, Lanny

  3. Karen says:

    I have a book called Natural Solutions. It says the best way to rid these type of ants is to kill the queen, or queens since these ants usually have more than one queen, is for the workers to bring her this treat back to the nest. She will gobble it up and within a few hours die of heartburn. But be sure to keep this out of reach of children and pets. It can make them very sick.
    3 1/2 ounces of strawberry jam (or any sweet jam)
    1 1/2 tablespoons of wet, canned cat food (they love liver)
    1 teaspoon of boric acid
    Make very small balls from the mixture and leave them where you see the workers foraging for food.
    Also try to find the nest. Make a mixture of 1/4 cup of liquid hand soap with 1 gallon of water. Mix well, then pour 2 cups on the anthill and repeat after an hour.
    This comes from Dr. Myles H. Bader who spent over 10 years researching pest control. Good Luck!

  4. Sybille Ahlstrom says:

    Nadine, I am not so much commenting on the blog but would like to know where I can leave a review for your books . I read both of them , I am almost done with the Sequel and don’t want to finish it because I enjoy it so much that I simply don’t want it to end. I read a lot and this is one of the few books that made me laugh out loud while totally transferring me into your world in Costa Rica . We visited Costa Rica several times and fell in love with it the first time we were there ( my ex and I almost bought a home there in 1998 when we were there with the kids and I wished we had done it). I am eventually going to move there and just came back from a Christopher Howard Tour that I thoroughly enjoyed. Several people on the tour read your book and loved it . PLEASE tell me that you are writing a third book and how to leave a review. I just uploaded it on my iPad so there wasn’t the usual prompt from Amazon to leave a review. Thanks for sharing your adventures and don’t forget to write another one:) Sybille

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Sybille!! The reviews mean so much to me. They let others know to take a chance on my books.

      I’m so glad you can relate to the stories since you have already been to Costa Rica. I’m sure you have experienced your share of pot holes! But even with all the obstacles, I am still so much in love with Costa Rica. It fixed all the things in my that needed fixing.

  5. Mary says:

    Do they bite?

  6. Ann Ellison says:

    Always love reading your blogs. I never was one for the scary stuff. The wicked witch in Wizard of Oz gave me nightmares.

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks Ann, always love to hear from you. Wizard of Oz is just plain scary for kids. Monkeys with wings? That’s like the setting of a scary Costa Rican movie!

  7. Bobbie Russell says:

    I can’t wait to quit my job and move to Costa Rica! We are going on a scouting mission this summer. We figured we wanted to experience the rainy season.

    • Nadine says:

      Have fun! I love the rainy season, and if you can navigate the country during the rainiest time of the year, you will understand what to expect when moving here.

  8. Eric says:

    Let’s not forget Saturday night’s “Creature Feature”. I used to stay up to watch that every week…

  9. Wayne Harrison says:

    The horror movie that gave me the creeps was the one with the giant tarantula, caused by atomic radiation or something.

    Are the ants you have different from what I’ve heard called “cleaner ants”? They supposedly come in the house overnight and pick up all the crumbs, or is that just a Costa Rica urban legend?

    • Nadine says:

      These aren’t the cleaner ants, but I love when they come. They will actually march into the house, clean the floor and leave in about a half hour. It’s like a crew of Merry Maids!

  10. Good to know to expect it and that it will pass… that’s crazy!!

  11. Mark says:

    Never forget the good. Our casita in San Ramon acquired some nasty wasp nests in the bouginvilla and elsewhere. I had a plan…involving flamethrower. Then, the army ants came. They lingered about a day and complete eradicated each wasp nest and all sorts of other debris. Kinda cool!

  12. antares says:

    Yeah, we had the independent TV station that broadcast B-class horror movies on Saturday in my town, too. I preferred Bugs Bunny. Only time I ever saw those movies was when I joined my friend at his house. He never missed ’em.

    Last I heard he was a major general in the Air Force.

    • Nadine says:

      I have a sweet spot for all those old, B-movies. But even though they look a little goofy now, it scared the heck out of me. The Blob was the worst, for some reason that one gave me the most nightmares.

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