Sunday, September 25, 2011

go to the ant

So ok. Sometimes one of the kids will leave something they ate or drank on my worktable. And the next thing I know, there are ants. Teeny black types. I don't think they're what people like to call sugar ants, because I'm told sugar ants are actually fairly big, with tan, orange-ish bodies. But maybe these are sugar ant children or something.

Anyway, they're on my worktable. Not many, or at least, not noticeably so. But it's fine, because seriously, I'm very, very fond of animals, and that does extend to most insects as well. I absolutely hate killing them (well, except maybe mosquitoes). So when I know that some ants have arrived from wherever it is they were waiting, I don't get all upset.

But I have to say, it really does bug the heck out of me when I'm just sitting here typing, minding my own business, and one of them imperceptibly climbs on to me and -- BITES me. I mean, it's like, hey! what the --?!

It's so unexpectedly startling -- I mean, I don't expect to be that startled, but I invariably am -- and I end up squashing them to absolute smithereens before I even fully register what I'm doing. And then I feel so bad. Because they're like completely, absolutely, thoroughly squashed -- they become tiny unrecognisable dots.

And so -- in that spirit of using the Internet "just to see if anyone else in the world had the same thoughts about something that I did" -- I typed "why do ants bite" in the Google box. I wanted to know if they were doing it in self-defence, in defence of their colony, in an effort to see if I was edible, or something else altogether.

Needless to say, there were other people in the world who wondered the exact same thing; usually they were the ones who got bitten while minding their own business (interestingly, the word ant apparently derives from the West Germanic amaitjo, meaning "the biter"). Strangely though, I could not find a proper answer, at least not within the first 5 minutes of scanning. There were more explanations of how they bite, rather than why.

So as far as why goes, I only found a few answers. Perhaps the most reasonable one was that they're trying to protect themselves, or their colony. Someone did suggest that ants bite because they are in fact trying to eat you. I don't know, maybe. This article is especially detailed, and accompanied by some fantastic photos (in the process, I came across this unnecessary bit -- a portrait made of 200,000 dead ants).

But I've made a few of my own personal, albeit unscientific, observations about the ants here. They're industrious, they work hard. They're committed, they stay on track despite getting squished. They're determined; if one route fails, they try, try, and try again. They're cooperative, working harmoniously together for the greater good. And they're conscientious, faithfully carrying out their assigned roles. One might even say they're bold and valiant; bravely, perhaps even sacrificially, taking on giants greater than themselves.

So while I may not know exactly why ants sometimes bite, I have in the process developed an even greater respect for them. Like many other animals, they're living examples of some very valuable life principles. They don't waste the day, for example, they're diligent, they're tough, they don't sit around moping in discouragement or self-pity (not the ones I've seen anyway). Says Proverbs 6:6-8:

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise!
Which, having no chief, overseer, or ruler,
Provides her food in the summer and gathers her supplies in the harvest.



The Nebulous Kingdom said...

Thank you for including my work!! beautiful selection :)

Much love!

Miss Val's Creations said...

This post makes me smile! Now I wonder why exactly these little guys bite!!! Adorable selection of ant-related works. Le Voyageur is too cute!!! ~Val

Sandrine Mercier said...

Thank you very much Janice for including my ant !!! A lot of wishes :)

Beth said...

Wonderful post, Janice. I had to smile when I read you'd searched "why do ants bite" because I've done the same search! I can certainly attest to their spirit of not giving up in the face of adversity. After I wrote the ant post, my husband accidentally ran over the smiley-face anthill with his truck (it WAS right in the driveway). I felt terrible, but noticed that they started rebuilding right away, albeit with a different construction. No smiley face this time. :-)


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