Archive for April 24th, 2008

They Come in Great Armies

Then came the plague of ants. They came no one knew whence, in great armies… and the housewife and cook were pestered to desperation by them. But the philosophical people are reasoning that the little ant is less bothersome than the fly or mosquito, that he is an excellent and ever-industrious scavenger, and that he has never been accused of being the means of spreading contagion.

The New York Times, August 17, 1902

Each spring and fall for the last several years, much like the infamous red ant invasion of New Orleans in 1902, menacing fire ants assault our lawn, and little, innocent-looking black ants declaring eminent domain take possession of our house. Okay, not billions, maybe not even millions, but at least hundreds of them invade our house — usually marching one by one, but occasionally they double up — and I swear if those little ones didn’t have to stop to suck thumbs or tie shoes once in a while, I’d never be able to catch them! The only harrah-ing to be heard is from me when I finally get those little suckers. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! As nasty as fire ants are, I find them easier to evict than their smaller, non-biting, ever-industrious, scavenger cousins.

My dad will probably recognize that I’m playing off one of his own comments a few years ago as I write this. One day we were chatting on instant messenger and I was seriously ranting about my bi-annual ant problem. He then mentioned he’d found a nest of carpenter ants in his garden shed that week. Concerned that maybe our uninvited household guests were of that variety too, I typed back, “How did you know they were carpenter ants?” Without pause, he cleverly caught me off guard with, “Well, when they threw their tiny hammers and tool belts to run for cover, I was pretty sure.”

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