” If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?”

A damp, cloudy day has replaced our two days of summer. It is 57° which is still quite warm, but it’s no deck day. From my window, I can see pine trunks and branches dark against the light grey sky. A slight breeze flutters the dangling dead oak leaves. It’s a sweatshirt day.

Yesterday TCM was b&w 1950’s science fiction day. I watched a behemoth rise from the Thames and a glob of radioactivity melt people. The best of the films was THEM!, the giant ant movie, one of my all time favorites. I haven’t seen it in a while, but I still remembered some of the dialogue. “Make me a sergeant in charge of the booze,” is one of its memorable lines. At the beginning of the film, the regular size ants eating the sugar on the floor of the destroyed shop is a great scene and the only hint of what is to come. Pat Medford, the lady PhD, got off the plane wearing a suit, a hat and white gloves while Robert Graham aka James Arness, the FBI hero, constantly complained about the desert heat but never took off his fedora. Before the Big Dig, as you went through the South Station tunnel in Boston, you could hear, bouncing off the walls, the exact sound the ants made. I always listened for it as I drove through.

In Ghana, some of the ant hills are taller than people. They always looked like something out of a science fiction movie to me. The hills, made out of sand, are different shapes: some look like the sand castles we used to build on the beach while others resemble stalagmites which rise from the savannah like conical sand icicles. I never stopped to see the ants by the hills, but once during training an army of ants marched across the school grounds. The column was about a foot wide, but I have no idea how long it was as I had to pull myself away to go teach. I watched as long as I could. Some of the ants carried leaves while others carried food of some sort. We’d put a leaf in the middle of the column, but it never deterred the ants who’d move around it on the two sides then regroup when past it. It was fascinating.

I have a full dance card today.

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7 Comments on “” If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?””

  1. olof1 Says:

    The same temperature here but with sunshine 🙂 One of the warmest days so far 🙂

    Them is one of my favorite movies as well 🙂 They do show it here every now and again but usually on channels I don’t have. I remember the sound the ants give away too and I always wondered if ants actually give any sound at all. I have no idea but that sound always pops up in my head when going close to an ant stack 🙂 🙂 🙂
    I have actually seen ant stacks higher than myself but they were of course not made of sand.
    I have some photos of building in todays post.

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      It’s still warm but cold air is on its way!

      I found out they do communicate: Many species make tiny squeaks that people can hear if they hold an ant close enough. The rich chemical communication of ants has claimed more attention from scientists in recent decades, but a small band of researchers has been sorting out ant sounds.

      Biologists have long realized that ants can hear with their knees, picking up vibrations humming through leaves or nests or even the ground. In the past 20 years, researchers interpreting the messages that thrum in substrates have revealed a sort of ant-ernet, zinging with communiqués about lost relatives, great food, free rides for hitchhikers, caterpillars in search of ant partners, and impending doom.

      I loved the cottages you had the other day. They were great. Today’s house look huge. I love all the btick. The brige was great looking.

      This has just not bee your week. I’m sorry that it is all coming at once. A little change is difficult enough but all of them at the same time is more than annoying!

  2. Zoey & Me Says:

    I always turned those movies off because they gave me bad dreams. It’s a curious story about the ants in Ghana. Well take that country off my travel list for retirement. I hate ants. I hate fleas too and our cats picked up a bad case of them at the groomers so we are bathing and applying the latest Armour ointment but they continue to scratch. It’s so sad to see them uncomfortable.

    • katry Says:

      Z&Me,
      I have only seen the army of ants once in all the time I wasa there so you can keep Ghana on the list!

      Last year my dog got her first flea in her life and the cats picked them up from her. The dog was allergic to the flea bites, but the cats were less uncomfortable. Luckily I was able to rid the fleas from all 3 of them.

      I don’t think I’ve ever had dreams about the films I’ve seen,

  3. Bob Says:

    Here in Texas we get huge, not as big as in Ghana, red ant hills in the yard. These ants are not docile like the black carpenter ants that live in most of the country, these are mean ‘mother f..kers’. If you accidentally knock down one of their hills they will attack you in droves and soon you will have two mounds. They spring up like wild toad stools after a big rainstorm. Their bites sting and swell into red welts that burn and take days to stop hurting and itching. No amount of calamine lotion will relive the sting of their bites.

    Today the weather was gorgeous. The sky was absolutely clear, the temperature is in the upper 70s and there is no wind and low humidity. I don’t know why I am sitting inside writing this, I aught to be outside enjoying the weather.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      We have those black carpenter ants you mentioned but no ants anywhere as nasty as your red ones. I don’t know of any biting ones around here which I’m glad about as they sound awful.

      That sounds like the perfect day.

      Did you go out?

      • Bob Says:

        I didn’t go outside because I was too tired but tomorrow is forecast to be even better. I think the red fire ants are a southern breed.


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