This was my first post (#1 - 5) published back in July 2010 but written earlier in several parts on Face Book. IT'S LONG SO STAY WITH ME.
I have ants, lots of ants! Tiny, little, black, shiny things marching across my kitchen counter. So, what's up with these tiny little creatures? Haven't they heard of the great outdoors? Don't they know about all of the picnics going on out there? Haven't they visited the local garbage dump? Why do they have to invade MY kitchen?
|I must go to the top|
of the ketchup bottle!
Now, I am a peaceful, nature loving person who looks upon all life as being precious (even ants). I have been known to (carefully) scoop up wayward spiders and escort them in to a much better echo system (which lies outside my front door). Most people think I'm nuts to do this, but I respect the job the spiders do in keeping down the bug population (all except my house ants, of course).
OK, I admit it, I am a mediocre housekeeper who leaves one small morsel of food on the counter (ok, two….ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT so how about using the word SOME). Within the hour this tiny speck of food is descended upon by a hoard of ants. It's not like they couldn't have scarfed up the bits of food that have dropped to the floor. NO! That would be too easy. They are on my counter. I guess they like clean leftovers and the stuff on the floor is beneath them (literally and figuratively). As I watch the long line of scurrying animals they look like starving refugees who suddenly found themselves at an all you can eat buffet. I'll bet they even have their tiny little doggie bags tucked under their little appendages.
The ant can be credited for phenomenal communication and organizational skills. Some enterprising scout ant stumbles over a find and does what? Yells, "Hey, Guys, over here." Suddenly, a conga line of industrious ants converge on the mother of all grand feasts and gets to work. The fact is they actually lay down a little chemical trail to lead their CLAN to the find.
However, they will get no kudos from me for their intelligence. Because as I was writing this an ant traipsed across my paper, never even giving a thought to the huge giant sitting there (who was poised to render a crushing blow). Then, as the squashing maneuver begins, the ant suddenly glances up and races off (in a zigzag pattern) as if it had just noticed the peril for the first time. One (1) down and so many more to go.
It's when I actually saw one look up at me before fleeing that I began to feel guilty - yes, you read right, guilty. (2)...(the numbers depict another ant dispatched) I guess I have been affected by all of those Disney/Pixar movies that show insects with human characteristic. I think that is called personification.
Why should I feel guilty (Oh, yes, it's Disney's fault). It's not like ants are on an endangered species list. They aren't fuzzy with wagging tails and big soulful brown eyes. They aren't cuddly or cute but, they do perform a service for nature. (3) Ants have a job to do. They are one of the many insects that have the nasty job of cleaning up the messes that we humans make. After all they take out the trash on a regular basis (which is more than I could say for myself, or my kids when they were young).
I kind of admire the way ants (4) work diligently and march out into a world that holds many perils for a creature of this minute size. They don't appear to be daunted by their lot in life. They see the prize and carry it off, one piece at a time. Some survive, some do not, but the colony goes on. Very altruistic!
One day, tired of finding ants raiding my trash can, I decided (5) to put the ant attracting debris in a separate bag and tie it up around a cupboard doorknob (intending to put it out after dinner and maybe train the ants to go outside to eat). When I returned to the sack thirty minutes later it was swarming with little busy bodies. I would really like to know how they found it so fast. Did one little ant look up and ponder, "Well, that's new, I wonder what she has up there?" Did it make several attempts to find a way up to the (6) hanging feast or did it go directly there (following it’s little ant nose)? Once there, did it go back down, (laying a trail of bread crumbs like Hansel and Gretel) and tell the others of its miraculous find? Or, did one clumsy ant fall off the cupboard and accidentally plunge into the gourmet meal? Then it next pondered how to get the message to its fellow scavengers (7). Do they have little ant whistles hanging around their necks, or maybe little cell phones?
So far 7 ants have bit the dust while I was writing this “ANT ENCOUNTER” documentary. Then I saw one small ant carrying a piece of cracker two times larger than it’s body. I marveled at how it found its way around the items on the table and was steadfastly heading toward the south end of the table. Each time I placed something in its path it quickly detoured around it and continued south. This was enough to earn a reprieve. So I lured it onto a napkin and took it outside as a reward for its HERCULEAN attempt at food gathering. Of course the poor thing found itself outside, in a pile of dirt without the morsel of cracker. Did it cuss me out or simply go around to the original point of entry and try again?
So, I loudly proclaimed (8) to the ants in my kitchen that I would not hurt them if they would PLEASE just step outside, AND STAY THERE!
The ants did not listen to me and returned the next day, only WITH MORE RECRUITS. This time they were all over the place (except of course, the floor). I ranted and raved; growled and hollered at them, "DIE YOU B...(well, you fill in the blanks). This tack was not working.
I scoured my counter tops three times a day, and they still kept coming. I smeared liquid soap on the counters,which did slow them down only because I think they had to detour through the bathroom. However, later that day, I forgot and made a sandwich on that same counter. I was given a nasty surprise (9). DARN THOSE ANTS!
I don't like chemical warfare so ant poison was not an option. The very memory of having taken a bite of soap marinated sandwich told me that poison would be something I should avoid (shudder).
Also, I do not like watching them writhe in their death throws from pesticides. I mean, the soap would only give them diarrhea (hence the detour through the bathroom), but, poison, well, is poison. So smashing seemed be the only acceptable method of extermination.
Before starting the "smashing" campaign I wrote out a Bill of Promises for the ants:
1. I will not squeal out, "DIE, YOU B..." (or whatever) as I squash you.
2. I will not smile and enjoy the process.
3. If you are still wiggling after the smashing maneuver I will go in for a second smash and put you out of your misery.
4. I will give ants showing bravery, exceptional evasive moves, or other enterprising traits a chance to go outside.
5. I will keep my counters as clean as humanly possible so as not to tempt you (yeah, right!).
Funny thing though, before I could finish writing the diatribe, I saw an ant sitting on the top of the lidded ketchup bottle. It appeared to be surveying what I was writing. I gave her (I say her, because all worker ants are female, that must be why they are so successful) time to finish reading and said, "Well, what do you think?" I watched the small creature march down the ketchup bottle, across the table, up my pen, and onto my finger (poor thing must have been near sighted). I briefly considered that it might actually be trying to communicate with me. NO! COULDN'T BE......... then I quickly put her outside.
Now, before you call me crazy (ok, I know you have already thought that several times) let me tell you that I no longer have an over supply of ants. Once in a while a rogue ant will race across the table or the counter. But they are no longer here in mass.
Think what you want but, I am here to tell you that, although nearsighted, ANTS HAVE LEARNED TO READ. We humans had best be careful how we treat them because THEY could get even!