At least the invaders are tiny black ants

Published 2:34 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

When my exterminator stopped by on his periodic visit, I mentioned that a friend told me ants had invaded her kitchen a few days ago. “And just about everybody else’s,” he replied, as he set out to spray my house. With all the showers we have had recently, an ant invasion was no surprise to me either. Several times they have appeared in my kitchen following summer rains.

I have often declared that I must live in ant heaven. When I had a clothesline, I found tiny black ants in the clothing I removed from it. They sometimes follow trails to my car when I neglect to put it in the garage. It is a bit embarrassing when visitors pull away from the driveway loaded with ants crawling on or inside their vehicles.

I am not speaking of those hateful fire ants that most of us battle constantly here in our area. As I mentioned, these are those tiny black ants that build nests all over our yards. Actually, despite being nuisances, ants are fun insects to watch. One Sunday morning when I was on my way to church, I saw a tiny crumb moving slowly and steadily on the sidewalk. Bearing the heavy burden that was probably many times its weight was a black ant. I stopped to watch. As it moved, I noticed other ants scurrying here and there. One of them even bumped into the solitary ant with the crumb. Although the carrier wavered, it kept moving.

On my drive to church, I kept thinking about the lone ant that let nothing deter it from its path. I know that all ants have special jobs. It made sense that the one I observed was a worker ant. They look for food, tend to the young, and defend the nest from unwanted visitors. Some worker ants take out rubbish from the nest. They even put it outside in a special garbage dump. I wondered if the one I saw was a forager bringing home the bacon or if it was hauling rubbish out of its nest. One thing I was certain of—it was carrying out whatever duty for which it was born. And it was doing it diligently.

The same was true with all those other ants scurrying back and forth near the carrier. Maybe some had just left the nest to search for food and others were returning from the garbage dump. Apparently, they all knew their jobs and were busy fulfilling that purpose.

I can tolerate the tiny black ants. It is those hateful fire ants I am wary of. I had never seen or heard of them until we moved to south Alabama in the late 1960s. Just one bite for a family member educated us. You are blessed if you have escaped the fire ant’s sting. Be watchful of those familiar beds that pop up because it is extremely painful to stumble onto a fire ant bed risking numerous bites.


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper industry.