Ants preach it: Persistence really pays off

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ants! Ants! They were everywhere exploring the area around my kitchen sink. It seemed as if the more I swiped and crushed, they just kept appearing. It was not a happy scene to greet me five minutes after I stumbled out of bed one morning and reached for a glass in the kitchen cabinet. As soon as I seemed to have them halfway under control, I reached for the phone to summon the exterminator.

As I grumbled and swatted, I remembered that I had once found a tiny, tiny hole by the kitchen window facing. One day I followed their path outside along the side of the house down to the ground and across the yard. It was probably the rainy weather that sent them back inside.

For years, my family has referred to our yard as “ant heaven.” When guests pull into the driveway and leave their vehicles for a few hours, they are in danger of an ant invasion. Upon opening a car, truck or van, they might find a busy line of ants crawling on the inside of the door. I sometimes quip to the visitors that they are more than welcome to take as many of the annoying insects as they like away with them since we are “blessed” with such abundance.

I have noticed that tiny ant beds crop up overnight in the yard. A big water oak tree in the side yard next to the driveway has a network of knotty roots stretching across the ground. They produce crevices that are evidently enticing to ants. I once bent down to inspect a lacy piece of artwork that the industrious little insects had sculpted in the sand. I wondered how in the world the delicate structure stood alone.

Ant trails often seem to start from crevices between the roots in that tree. Some lead up into it. Another snakes across the yard towards the lot next door. Others inch up electric lines.

Have you ever just stood still and watched ants? They puzzle me. They are busy every second. Some are coming in one direction while at the same time others move the opposite direction. They sometimes bump into each other as they hurry along to get wherever they are going. That slight interruption does not slow them down at all. They just keep on keeping on at the same pace. There is no doubt they are dedicated to the task they perform.

Benjamin Franklin must have taken time to study ants. It was that witty gentleman who said, “None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.” If you can find a sermon in the ant, it is that persistence pays, for they just keep on doing what they do. History proves it. My encyclopedia says they have been around for millions of years. Despite exterminators and people like me, ants are definitely here to stay.

Most of all, though, I just want them to stay out of my kitchen.

Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.