I've decided to go with Grover*.
Grover's* the rep for the third pest control company I called yesterday. He came late in the forenoon today, as appointed. For the third time, I conducted the tour: Little ants in the kitchen, big ants in the woodpile, big dumb solitary bees or wasps in the vegetable garden pavement.
Grover* saw the kitchen ants and said, "Those are pavement ants." Oh. Not Pharaoh ants, or sugar ants, or little black ants. Pavement ants.
He saw the carpenter ants on the woodpile. Yep, they're there, got to be taken care of.
Then on some hunch or other, he headed for the far northeast corner of my backyard, to the Norway maple. He went round the back of it, and found the old wound that faces the fence, which I never pay attention to. "You've got carpenter ants in this tree, too."
I certainly did, a whole squadron of the half-inch-long critters, busily scurrying up and down the bark to some unseen nest above. There were so many, my dog stared at them, standing at point.
Then I asked about the whatever-they-ares hovering over their holes in the garden paving.
"They're definitely not hornets or yellowjackets," said Grover*. "See, they're solitary. They're not aggressive at all." And I guess they weren't, considering we were standing practically right on top of their nests, with them flying around our ankles.
So I'm going to leave the solitary bees/wasps in the garden alone.
But the ants are another story. A war story, in this case. The best weapon of choice seems to be a slow-working residual chemical that the ants will track right down into the nests, where it'll stunt and stop the growth of the young and finally kill the adults.
It's cruel and heartless I am, sure, but it's not that I love the little ants less, but that I love my house more.
Grover's* price for an initial treatment plus three more applied quarterly came in right in between the bids I got from Bert* and Ernie* yesterday. He asked me if the way high bid was Bert's*.
"Yes, it was," said I.
"They're always high. And it's amazing how many people believe it has to be that expensive, because they don't get a second or third bid."
And Ernie's*? I think his was way too low. No way those insects could be taken care of in one or two visits.
Besides, Ernie* said I had Pharaoh ants in the kitchen, and I looked it up and they're not Pharaoh ants at all. Pharaoh ants are yellowish or reddish tan, and practically transparent. Mine are opaque and shiny black. And Pharaoh ants are, as I read it, panic-in-the-streets difficult to get rid of. And known disease carriers. So I have to wonder about Ernie's* cheerful attitude yesterday when he told me that's what I had marching through my pantry.
Anyway, Grover's* coming late morning on Monday to engage in Stage 1 of Operation Stash the Frass. I see it as an act of altruism: Not only will killing off the carpenter ants benefit me, it'll also do a good turn to my neighbors: Their house is all of wood.