Monday, April 30, 2012


Spring came late to Germany, but it seems it finally has arrived. The 2012 Riesling has the first leaves and the wheat is a foot high.

Lara and Gloria are now 16 months old, almost old enough so we should start counting their age in fraction of years. This month's news is Lara's first molar, and Gloria's first word:

I have been busy writing a proposal for the Swedish Research Council, which is luckily submitted now, and I also had a paper accepted for publication. Ironically, from all the papers that I wrote in the last years, it's the one that is the least original and cost me the least amount of time, yet it's the only one that smoothly went through peer review.

Besides this, I'm spending my time with the organization of a workshop, a conference, and a four-week long program. I'm also battling a recurring ant infection of our apartment, which is complicated by my hesitation to distribute toxins where the children play.


  1. Hi Bee,

    first I wasn't sure, if I should send you congrats, but then thought I should, since you and Stefan handle life as best as you could. It is difficult to decide to fight insects with toxic sprays, when kids are playing in these rooms. I think I'm not the right person to answer such a question, but on the net you'll find expertise I guess. And with the publications, I guess there can always some surprises come up.

    Best, Kay

  2. Hi Bee,

    Gloria and Laura seem to be doing fine and you appear to be coping with your own rendition of the Tale of Two Cities; well perhaps coping might be a bit of an oversimplification with all you and Stefan have on your plates. As for your ant infestation I can imagine with having children your concern about exposure to toxins has heightened. However as Kay mentioned there are some lower risk alternatives as for example ant baits, which you can buy commercially or have them home made. From what I gather the tricky part is to discover what they like to dine on; so let’s hope yours aren’t picky eaters :-)



  3. Re Glorias first word

    Hopefully she will have the last word always :=)

  4. An ant colony is an inverted pyramid. Tens of thousands of female workers pass food mouth to mouth, eventually down to the queen and larvae. Killing workers with poison does nothing. The queen and larvae must be hit, not the workers.

    Consider baits containing juvenile hormone mimics methoprene (15-30 days acivity) or pyriproxyfen (6-8 months activity). They are not toxic. They scramble the development cycle of insects, hitting only the queen and larvae. Do your ants prefer protein, fat/oil, or starch?

  5. Hi Bee,

    Ahha ... "mama"

    But was she speaking in German or English?

    Or maybe she's multilingual already?

    Ants are a common problem with lots of good, easy, effective and non-toxic methods of preventing them from being in the home.

    For example ...

    What is more difficult is keeping the squirrels from eating all the apples and pears. Lots of cheap and easy solutions for that, but unfortunately, none of them work.


  6. Oh, and this was funny, I recall, from 4 yrs ago ...


  7. Hi William,

    Thanks for the links. I noticed ants make a great conversation topic, everybody has their favorite remedy ;o) Unfortunately, almost all of these remedies only work to discourage ants from entering the house, and do little to erase them once they have settled. I'm afraid our problem rests below the hardwood floor, and we inherited it from the former tenants. The sensible thing would be to take out the floor, but that won't make our landlord happy. So whenever there's an ant outburst, I do what I can, but that doesn't actually solve the problem.

    The girls understand mostly German. It is noticeable at this point because they simply don't understand when we speak English, though they seem to find it interesting. Best,


  8. Hi Bee,

    I think I’ve come up with a solution to the Backreactors ant problem, being I think it’s time you got yourselves a pet. Now that I come to think about it this might solve things for those Buddhists monks as well without conflicting with their beliefs :-)



  9. Hi Phil,

    Yes, I did distribute ant baits, the problem is not to forget taking them away when the kids are in the room. It gets more complicated if somebody else is watching after the kids. The success is moderate. Clearly the ants are suffering from it, but they're reproducing at such an amazing rate it's not actually solving the problem.

    I read somewhere that ants are presumably quite tasty with a little crunch, maybe I should think about ant cookies ;o) Best,


  10. ""I read somewhere that ants are presumably quite tasty with a little crunch,""

    I can assure You that formic acid (english: antic acid?) is not especially delicious.
    Georgesteced eavolie


    Ours are a little smaller though ;o)

  12. Hi Bee,
    Hope you don't mind a photography suggestion for the first photograph. Flash is not just for use in dim light. A little flash in such situations gives a nice catchlight in the eyes.

    Or else you can add that with photoshop. :)


  13. Hi Arun,

    No, I do not mind. I usually have the flash off just because it drains the battery. Maybe I should go back to magnesium ;o) Anyway, the photo you see above is cropped from a larger photo and actually has a quite low resolution, so it doesn't really seem worth the effort because it would look crappy on print anyway. Best,



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