About a week or so ago, we had a little bit of rain and some ants came in. It’s been a very dry spring–as our springs have been, sadly.
But instead of being grateful that we had 3/10ths of an inch or rain instead of the predicted 1/10, I was dealing with The Spoiler, who was demanding that I put down traps for the ants! (For the record, as you may already remember, we don’t use traps–we use those nice ant repellent packets).
So this is why I say that ants are like weeds. When they’re outside, they’re fine and nobody much notices them unless they are ruining your picnic, or biting you, or perhaps, if they are carpenter ants, you might notice if they are menacing a tree.
But inside, they are like weeds, which are sometimes defined as a plant in the wrong place–they are an insect in the wrong place. Spiders are much the same–they are a “good” bug out of place and we want them gone!!
But how are they like us? Well, if you know even a little bit about ant biology and social structure you know that ants live in community and have defined roles. Without going so far as to anthropomorphize these small insects, they do have “jobs,” and they do them well. There are the “scout” ants that find their way into your homes to search out food, the “nurse” ants that tend to the eggs and young that hatch from the Queen, and in some types of ants that we thankfully don’t have here in Connecticut, there are even soldier ants that fight other colonies.
What most astounded me about our recent little infestation–which lasted only so long as it took me to move my repellent packets, mostly–was the behavior. I am guessing that it was scout ants that came inside.
Unfortunately, The Spoiler was kicking up such a fuss that we wound up stepping on some of them–more so that I could keep him quiet rather than out of any dislike for the ants. I knew that they would go back to where they came from–I just didn’t want to listen to the whining and ranting after a long day at work.
I did not pick up the little carcasses, however. I figured that could wait for another day. So imagine my shock when I got up the next morning and they were all gone! Not only had the ants vacated the premises but they took their dead with them! This is why I say that ants are so like us–they take their dead away.
Now, again, I am not presuming that they took them for a proper burial. They may have been taking them to feed them to their young. But they dead were gone from my house. It was just astonishing.
So next time you have ants in your home, I ask two things of you. First, please give your repellent or trap(s) time to work. It is NOT instantaneous.
Next, do remember that these little insects do have a social structure–and try to be as gentle with your pest control methods as you can.