Ants: What The Hell Are These Things, Anyway?
"I am thanking you for doing your part in helping to save these people. It will always be remembered, this you have done,
The time will come when another world will be destroyed, and when the wicked people know their last day on earth has come, they will sit by an anthill
and cry for the ants to save them.
Now, having fulfilled your duty, you may go forth to this Second World and take your place as ants."
-Sotuknang, Creator of Life, speaking to the Ant People. Hopi creation narrative.
Caution: There will be cursing, I am afraid.
I wake at 4:30 in the morning to the cat yowling and meowing. I have known this cat for a long time so I am pretty sure I know what is going on; ants!
He hates ants. I am not so sure how I feel about them, but more on that later. I get up and sure enough; they have gone for the cat food. In the dish
and in the big bag that I had foolishly left unsealed. Tragedy.
Four years ago the ants had made my home an ant farm and seriously ruined about $35.00 worth of cat food in three weeks or so. That cat won't touch
the stuff after the ants have been all over it, I suppose he smells them or something, or is simply disgusted by having seen them on the food. Even
so, how to get the ants out of it? Anyhow, after that I had waged jihad against the ants and exterminated every nest that the property I lived on
touched, and one or two over the fence by proxy.
But this year brought lots of school and work and when the summer arrived the ants began to get out of hand again. This thread is the result of
thoughts and ruminations had during the days leading up to the new and present ant-jihad, which I am currently waging and winning. No names have been
used in order to protect the very guilty ant murderer(s).
The ants that I have to deal with are of the swarming, trailing, Argentine variety. But I know that folks all over the U.S and abroad have to cope
with the little assholes too, so I have included a couple of other species that are of universal concern. All of the ants that we will be discussing
are part of a group of 5 or 6 species that are referred to as Tramp Ants
. These are ants that got here and there by hook or by crook and always
at the hands of human commerce and shipping. Yes, they hitched a ride from wherever they were from, and that is usually the key to their success.
Our Argentine Overlords
Thought to have been introduced to America via coffee shipping during the 1890's, the hegemony of the Argentine Ant now forms a 'global super-colony'
that extends to Europe and Japan. This is best appreciated with a map...
You can see from the map that the distribution of the colonies is along the coastlines. When these ants arrived they had no natural predators. No
competitors at all. Let's look at another map from the University of San Diego that details the infestation in the U.S...
Back in 2000 the scientists at UCSD
determined that the success of the Argentine ant has
come because for over a century since their proposed introduction from Brazil, there has been next to no genetic variation between these 'superhives'.
That means that when they meet, they don't fight, in fact they pitch in, “Watcha' guys doin'?”, “Oh, we're raiding this guy's cat food”,
“Want some help?”, “Oh, yes please, and afters you can all meets the Queen(s)”.
California is thought to be host to at least five (5!) giant colonies. The largest, known as the 'California Large' is considered to stretch for 900
kilometers along the coast and the European contingent is thought to stretch for 6000 kilometers along the coast of the Mediterranean. It is their
world we just temporarily inhabit it.
These creatures are a regular fact of life in Southern California and if one lives in a badly infested area, and it is all
more or less badly
infested, and allows one's attention to waver for even just one season; hell will be paid and the encroachment will begin. They will come for the
weirdest # too, everything one can expect and many things you could never imagine. They have an affinity for biological secretions of all sorts. Which
causes me to have unhinged thoughts about DNA.
The Argentine ants are not burrowers or mound builders although they have been known to readily inhabit the deserted mounds or burrows of other types
of ant. They prefer to inhabit loose piles of leaf fall and loam. So in urban environments they will even nest in personal belongings, indoors. Also,
each nest can have multiple queens, up to 8 or 9, which is important for eradication strategies which we will discuss later.
Although they get along beautifully with one another, they hate other species of ants and will attack them mercilessly. As in all things with the
Argentine ants, they use sheer numbers to overwhelm their targets. They are notably bad for whatever ecosystem they have been introduced in to as they
have been known to take out beehives and bird's nests as well.
Crazy Like an Ant
..., commonly called the Crazy Ant
, comes in 150 different flavors and is named for it's rapid and erratic movement when disturbed. Considered
to be one of the most invasive species in the world, their hives are in most places that we are. People have said that they would rather have an
infestation of fire ants simply because the fire ants can be located. The crazy ants have completely infested the southern United States all the way
through Louisiana and Florida..
These are the little monsters that have been in the media in recent years and are notorious for mysteriously swarming over and fouling up
They are also famous for 'overrunning'
in the 1980's. These little mothers, like the Argentine ant, do not burrow or form mounds, they nest and have multiple queens.
The real super power of this species and the one thing that has given them the genetic edge over others is that they can
. The Queen produces
daughters that are genetically identical to herself and then produces males that are genetically identical to her mate. I hope you can start to see
now why I get a little nervous while contemplating ants.
edit on 17-8-2012 by Xoanon because: .