Ants: Jerks Of The Insect World
by: Tristan Risk "Little Miss Risk"
Ants Are Assholes
It would seem that the skies have sensed that I am once again, back home in Vancouver, and have opened up their clouds for a welcome home weep. I’ve never minded a little rain (aside from the torrential downpour in Calgary this summer past) and it gives everything a bit of a freshness that helps to herald in the fall. It also helps to keep the bugs down, which after living out of a bus for two months, I can appreciate. While we no stranger to many of the biting/stinging varieties, we largely missed out on much of an attack from the ground borne variety of bugs such as ants.
Back in the heady, youthful days of my mid twenties, I toured as a burlesque dancer pretty much full time, with the longest stretch at home lasting three weeks at the very most. It meant that I spent a great deal of time travelling, on the road and in a shared vehicle of either a converted short bus or a Mercedes Sprinter, depending on the hemisphere we were in. Five humans living in close quarters who also, incidentally, really like snacks can support a wide ecosystem. I experienced this, trapped in an unwitting experiment of using a vehicle as the incubator and various abandoned foods stuffs as a sort of gauge to see what their decomposition would attract.
I’ve seen fungus that looks like a topographical photo of Mars when yogurt has been left to languish in an icebox with no ice. I’ve witnessed the staying power of McDonald’s french fries tasting the same after a week on the floor of the van as when they are hot, aside from extra fluff and a variation of temperature. I have also seen a box of Ritz crackers enthusiastically embraced as salty and wheaty temple by a large sect of ants who must have believed the inside of that box was the Promised Land. I have seen The Museum Of Death in L.A. which is pretty gnarly without gagging, but even the most hardened of stomachs would get queasy with the biological rot I’ve seen, but the bugs always get me.
The ant has always, to me, gotten a free ride on the basis that they are hard workers. It’s easy to see how that might happen, since they have a Biblical endorsement. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” After you get the thumbs-up from a higher power in their sacred writings, it’s hard to convince the crowd to have a flow of ideas in the other direction on the matter as we’ve seen before (*COUGH* homophobia *COUGH* birth control *COUGH*) but don’t fall for the hype of the Old Testament. While this might have had some good Christians and Buddhists alike praising ants, I can say safely, and with quiet authority that ants are hard-working, yes, but also jerks.
Like humans, ants like sweet things and like us they sometimes have a difficult time saying no to their cravings. They will embrace those cravings and desires wholesale, which from a Biblical perspective seems to be something of a contradiction in terms with their current underlaying theme of piousness. They have even gone a step beyond and begun to cultivate another species to aid in their sweet tooth. They employ the use of aphids in their quest for treats and are the first time I have heard of insect farming.
If ants are kind of shitty that aphids are utter shits. They come in four kinds: green, red, black, and yellow and are parasitic to the core. These little vermin in the garden are an ant’s best friends. When the aphids bite into a plant - let’s just say your Aunt Millie’s prize roses - it causes the plant to ‘bleed’ and ooze out a ‘honey-dew’. The ants love this and will spend time cultivating and milking their groups of aphids. They even go as far as to move them from stem to stem in the garden which, while fascinating behaviour, is a bit of a boner for your garden. This ensures the virus of the aphids are spread throughout the garden and a causes you to channel your inner homicidal maniac.
However, there are solutions to avoiding ants. Ants do not enjoy plastic milk cartons (who does?) so you can protect your plants in that manner, spread bone-meal around. Whether there is something about the material itself that they don’t like, or they think putting these items in the garden is kind of tacky, ants will avoid these. But if you mean business and are feeling pushed beyond your limits, you can make a spray out of garlic water laced with white pepper. Consequently, if you are in the road with no access to bonemeal or white pepper, I offer the solution of half water and half vodka in a spray bottle with a dash of pepper from that old McDonald’s bag under the back seat. Spray that around the van or bus, and you will manage to have an ant-free ride.
Be warned though - spraying vodka around does tend to attract carnies and musicians, so caveat emptar.