“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8
I don’t mind them storing their provisions and gathering their food at harvest. It’s gathering our food I mind. Some varieties of ants like meat but won’t touch sugar. Others love anything sweet and sticky, others any kind of crumbs.
We have a friend who is an “antymologist.” He loves ants. He knows all about them. He can take you to an ant ‘hood where two different gangs have staked their turf and bust each other up and he can tell you all there is to know about each of them. Their organization, their efficiency, their articulated bodies and sensitive antennae. And they’re alive! Nothing is more amazing than that. They’re little miracles.
Their sense of smell is unbelievable–and how do they communicate with each other at such distances? They send out individual scouts who wander around like they’re lost and next thing you know there are swarms of them. We have to put our cat’s canned salmon on a plate with a moat around it because as soon as we set it on the floor of our upstairs bedroom ants can smell from outside the house and make a beeline–er, antline–to it, taking it hostage in minutes.
I don’t like to kill ants. (I know now that vinegar will keep them away.) I was watching one the other day–for some reason I decided it was a male–and he was carrying a large white crumb past the kitchen sink. It looked pretty heavy and he looked like he needed help with it. He was starting in one direction, hesitating, coming back, then standing still, waving his antennae about as if undecided about whether to put the crumb down or lug it with him until he could get help.
I totally identified with his indecision. I had seen evidence that ants feel panic and now I saw one that could worry. I had swept dozens of his compatriots to oblivion, washed them down the sink without (much) compunction but I couldn’t bring myself to kill him.
Next morning we came downstairs and a black line six ants wide was streaming through the cupboard next to the sink into our box of Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Puffins.
Dratted little miracles!