Operation DEAD, Dunster House's full-scale blitz against its insect invasion, is under way this week, and students say they are happy to be solving a problem that has been bugging them for years.
Death to Every Ant at Dunster is a plan to exterminate the house's perennial pests. Hundreds of Pharoah ants--a small, red variety--have been plaguing members of the Dunster community with increasing intensity since last year. The problem first began several years ago, but house leaders this fall wanted to put their foot down on the problem.
"They're little teeny, tiny, reddish ants that just get into everything," said Carol A. Finn, assistant to the masters.
So last spring, Dunster House Master Karel F. Liem called in the big guns: Gary Alpert, one of Liem's former students, and Baird Professor of Science and eminent ant authority Edward O. Wilson.
Death by Peanut Butter
Alpert and Wilson devised a formula of peanut butter and boric acid which is designed to attract ants, Liem said. Operation DEAD calls for the formula to be spread over cards and left around every room in the house.
"The ants will feed on the peanut butter and take that to the queen and feed the queen," Liem explained. "Hopefully, the queen will die because of that."
Liem said that it would be five to six weeks before already living generations of ants die out.
According to Liem, the boric acid is not recommended for human consumption but is perfectly safe.
Liem said that unless the entire house participates, the problem won't be solved.
"If everyone cooperates and all students put this out in their rooms, it will work," Liem said.
Beginning this week, each entry-way tutor is receiving a large supply of the boric acid mixture to distribute to students.
"My roommate's computer just died and we're attributing that to ants," said Jason L. Meil '92, a Dunster resident who said he was going to visit his entryway tutor for the poison yesterday.
"They were crawling around in the room, and that really doesn't bother me," said Dunster resident Matthew L. Vincenti '94. "When they start getting into my food that kind of annoys me."