Highly Attractive Poison
October 2014

“Highly Attractive Poison,” Ensign, October 2014, 79

Highly Attractive Poison

Alison L. Randall, Utah, USA


When I stepped out the front door to get the newspaper, I saw an unpleasant sight. A reddish mound of fire ants had formed in the night, rising through the crack between the lawn and the sidewalk.

Though my husband and I hadn’t lived long in Texas, USA, I knew from painful experience that the ants’ stinging bite, not their color, had earned them their nickname. I headed for the garage, where we kept the pesticide. I then read the instructions on the label.

“[This pesticide] is highly attractive to fire ants,” it read. “They will carry it into their mound, feed it to their queen, and the colony will die.” The label instructed me to sprinkle some granules on and around the mound. The ants would do the rest.

I was skeptical. The fire ants seemed pretty clever to me, able to build tall mounds in a single night. I doubted they would fall for disguised poison, but I sprinkled it on anyway.

A short while later I found the mound bustling with activity. I kept my distance but stooped to watch the fuss. They were as ecstatic as if it had just rained manna from heaven. They were hoisting the white granules in their tiny pincers and knocking over one another in their haste to get the poison into their mound.

I watched in horrified awe. They were willingly taking poison into their home. Apparently, the words “highly attractive” had not exaggerated. Somehow the pesticide company had been able to make something bad—lethal even—look extremely good.

I had never seen a more striking example of how bad could be made to look good. It made me think of how Satan does the same thing. I was comforted to realize that although he can sprinkle his disguised poison around my home, he can’t bring it in—unless I let him. So how could I keep it out?

One of my favorite scriptures came to mind: “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.” With that Spirit, Mormon explains, we “may know with a perfect knowledge” whether something is of God or of Satan (Moroni 7:16).

That experience of watching those doomed ants filled me with gratitude that my husband and I could judge and know for sure whether to allow something into our home. Our job was to teach our children to follow the Spirit of Christ so that they too could know poison when they came upon it.

As I stooped there, watching those insects transport every last granule into their mound, I vowed to do all I could to keep poison out of my home.