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by Janet Ross
Ants in my pants? No way. Not yet. However, I do have ants in the bathroom. Some days it's just one intrepid explorer hurrying along the counter, in to and out of the sink, up the wall and across the ceiling. Other times there may be two or three or, rarely, as many as ten, all going in separate directions on their individual quests.
Originally, all the ants were quite small – about a quarter inch in length. After our March snows and cold, some of the ants were double in size. I'd watch as a pair approached each other, expecting some kind of ant greeting. Didn't happen; the pair might come as close as within half an inch before moving off in different directions, seemingly never acknowledging one another.
Not knowing much about ants, except that we always had colonies outside (some in the backyard, next to the house on the south side, others in the front yard and under the cement driveway). Only the front yard ants were biters and I quickly learned to avoid them when pulling weeds. It was now time to do some research.
First I pulled our 1959 (antique?) encyclopedia Americana from the bookshelf. There were seven pages in Volume 2 devoted to the ant with illustrations and photographs. I quickly learned that ants are related to wasps and bees. If you see an ant with wings it's either a Queen or a male. And, there are more than 3,500 species (that was in 1959).
Next I consulted the ubiquitous Google to discover that garden ants can live for 15 years and measure 0.50.7 cm in length. Ants live in colonies with a Queen and workers. According to Google, there are a minimum of 12,500 species currently identified.
A trip to the Library produced two books on ants. The first, a scientific and technical exploration titled Journey to the Ants by Holldobler and Wilson is 200plus pages of text and illustrations meant for the serious study of ants around the world. The authors in their combined careers, have spent more than eighty years studying ants … everything you might want to know about ants and then some more.
My second book about ants was in the Library's Children's Department. Ants – a True Book by Ann O. Squire. Written for beginning readers with colorful photographs, it was easily my favorite information source with quotes like: “… a single ant can lift an object that is fifty times its own weight” or “… it can easily climb a tree 100 feet high, which requires about the same effort as a person jogging to the top of Mount Everest.” More surprising information from this little book: a colony can be home for up to a million ants. Ants have been around for 100 million years and walked the earth with dinosaurs. One final tidbit: “if ants had nuclear weapons they probably would have destroyed the world within a week!” (Feisty little creatures) So long as my ants stay out of my pants, I'll be happy and refrain from calling pest control.