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I’m in Pondicherry, India, staying at a bed and breakfast and I’m looking at a fascinating creation designed to keep ants, spiders and scorpions from crawling into the house. It was invented and built by the owner, Arjun.

The bug barrier is about 300 feet in length and completely surrounds the house. You might think it’s a high-tech electronic device, but it’s an age-old invention: a moat. It’s made of concrete and is about ten inches wide by eight inches deep. Arjun calls it the “ant channel.”

Now, a moat alone won’t stop determined ants; they can build a living bridge of floating, interlocked worker ants, then cross over into the house. What’s the X factor? Fish. Arjun stocked the channel and they gobble up bugs that enter the water. The fish do double duty by eating mosquito larvae.

But the ant channel needs yet another X factor because fish in this tropical climate multiply fast and could overrun the channel. What’s Arjun’s solution? He does nothing; snakes in the yard eat the fish. But what if they eat all the fish? “The fish need a sporting chance to hide from the snakes,” Arjun says. “so I placed water lilies and groupings of ceramic pots at regular intervals to give them hiding places. The ant channel is a delicate balancing act.”

Does it all work? Not exactly. Every morning I see teeny red ants on my bathroom sink. How do they beat the ant channel? They likely tunnel under it, then squeeze into the house through cracks in the slab floor. Luckily, most ants are too big to pull off that trick.

When I return home, I could try selling ant channels: “Hey homeowner, are you tired of ants and scorpions invading your home? Then call Home Defenders today and we’ll build a moat around your home that will be the talk of the town.”

Just, uh, ignore all those deadly snakes in your yard.

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