Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Ants Go Marching One by One

It seems every time I go in my backyard I'm bitten by an ant.  They must be hiding out there, secretly stalking me and then creeping up my shoes undetected.  I don't know what I've done to provoke these attacks.  So I did a little research.  Turns out, you don't have to do anything like disturb their nest to incite the little devils.      

Here's some interesting facts I found: fire ants don't actually bite you, they sting.  The bite is just to grab hold of you with their pinchers and then they sting you from their abdomen, injecting you with venom.  You could end up with a small welt, which may actually be the result of ten tiny stings.  You're not supposed to scratch it because that brings the blood to the surface, which allows the venom to spread.  (You can use ice to try to reduce the itching.)  The right thing to do is use soap and warm water to scrub the whole area.  One recommended home remedy is to soak paper towels with Worcestershire sauce and apply them to the stings.  Weird.

On a side note, we could all learn a lot from ants.  They form colonies that may have millions of ants in them.  Those colonies are called "superorganisms" because they work as a unified entity, working together to support the whole colony.  Within these ant societies, they communicate through pheromones, formulate defense strategies, and teach each other interactively.  In some cultures, ants and their larvae are considered an "insect caviar," which can sell in the U.S. for up to $40 per pound.  I never knew that.  Personally, I wouldn't care how much value they had, I don't want them in my house or taking over my backyard.  There's a whole city of them out there.  Haven't seen any rubber tree plants go by yet.  But I wouldn't be altogether surprised.

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