Tuesday, June 13, 2006

 

Try this at home

I saw an advertisement the other day for a product that purportedly will kill all the ants in your yard. They probably sell a lot of that stuff. After all, ants are bugs, and if they're in the yard, it's only a matter of time until they come in the house, right?
Actually, no. And besides, there are a lot of reasons to welcome ants to your yard. For one, they help aerate the soil, keeping it loose so the lawn and flowers can grow better, and helping all that rainwater drain into the ground. But most importantly, they can be a major source of backyard entertianment if you keep your eyes open and on the ground.
My yard is full of ants, big and little, black and red and some in between. And they have wars.
I've witnessed two fullscale epic battles for the ages over the last three years, and they are really something to see, pluse countless minor skirmishes.
When they're not fighting, I sometimes instigate. To wit: Yesterday, I removed one of the bricks around my birdbath area, suspecting ants may be nesting underneath. To my surprise, they had created a major nursery for egg-ants under that brick. Plus, to my additional surprise, a nest of earwigs had taken up residence between the brick and another. So when I removed the brick, about 15 earwigs fell into the ant nursery. Chaos ensued. Initially, the earwigs registered a windfall, and began grabbing ant eggs. Then the military came out, thousands of ants coating every earwig, biting off antennae and butt-pinchers. They even coated a couple of unlucky sow bugs (roly-polys) that fell in as well, but they just rolled into their little balls and were safe.
I watched for about a half-hour as the ants killed all the earwigs and transported their youngsters to safety.
It was better than a movie!

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