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I Haven’t Killed Them Yet

Our last episode ended with a cliffhanger – and I am sure that most of you have been on the edge of your seats for two days, wondering if I managed to snuff out my new, mail-order ant colony – or if Wonderbutt had taken care of the job for me.  You will be happy to know that the ants are still alive, all but one, in a temporary home that once contained Vitamin Zero water (lemonade flavor, which, quite frankly, is not my favorite anyway).  I successfully refrigerated them for half an hour and transferred them with great ceremony to their new home by opening their tube and allowing them to tumble into the bottle.  My daughter, Dimples, was completely unimpressed by the whole event, as the mouth of the bottle was wide enough for me to discharge the whole mass of numb ants at once instead of having to scoot one at a time through a tiny opening like I will have to do when I move them to the farm.  Which begs the question of, “Why are ant farms deliberately manufactured to hinder the initial entrance of ants, thus making classroom teachers everywhere hop onto their desks screeching as the crazed insects swarm away from the minute opening on the ant farm and race across the table and down its legs so they can, instead, crawl up inside the more hospitable pants of the humans who attempted to imprison them for their own amusement?”  It’s one of life’s unsolved mysteries.

Here is a picture of the ants in their Vitamin Zero bottle.  I poked a tiny hole in the top to give them air.  Even though the tube they arrived in had no such hole that I could discern.  But I seem to have read somewhere that even insects need air.  Then I was worried that the ants would find a way to squeeze out of the hole.  So, I came up with the ingenious idea of putting a duct tape force field around the cap, so they would stick to it if they got that far.  In retrospect, that might be perceived as a bit cruel and probably somewhat paranoid.  The hole is the size of a pinprick, and these ants are huge.  But insects are tricky little creatures, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to be cautious.

You can see the dead ant smack dab in the middle. His companions were kind enough to bury him, but I missed the ceremony.

Wonderbutt got jealous as I was taking pictures of the ants (as soon as he hears camera sounds, he comes running), so I decided to let him take a peek at the bottle.

Mmmm. This looks like a tasty treat…

Is my food moving?

Watcha doin’ in there?

He quickly lost interest once he detected no delicious smells and observed that the ants were far too industrious for his taste.  Though they do share his stubborn ability to bulldoze large objects out of their way, ants do not seem to appeal to Wonderbutt, so they should be safe for a couple of days.

I will take the ants to school on Monday, and the students will help me set up their new habitat.  Then, they will watch in awe as I show them the right way to move ants who have been refrigerated for an appropriate amount of time into an ant farm.  Then the parents will call the school that afternoon as they receive reports of their child’s teacher spewing a few ill-chosen words while the ants rebelled and hastily converged on the humans gathered around the new containment unit.  Good times…


Poop Bugs

We interrupt our laborious Labor Day weekend posts to bring you a docublogumentary post from the elusive Cap’n Firepants.  My husband, who usually has to force himself to show any interest in my blogging world, for some reason took it upon himself to provide me with a topic that he thought would fascinate my readers – The Amazing Poop Bugs of  Southeast Texas.

Every time we go to The Ranch, our citified group cannot get over the miraculous work of the dung beetles in the yard.  We usually have a combined total of at least four dogs when we all converge on The Ranch – and four dogs make a lot of poop.  But, no scooping is necessary because these little insects remove it faster than we can.  Well, faster than we, who have absolutely no desire to spend our weekend of relaxation scooping poop, are inclined to do.

This time, the Cap’n decided that the 10 other people who read my blog might actually want to know about these creatures – and would like photos.  So, I give you some morning coffee worthy pics of bowel movement-dozing beetles.  You can thank the Cap’n for this educational post.

Approximately 5.1 billion beetles converge on a poop pile in the middle of the yard.
photo credit:  Cap’n Firepants


Vladimir Pooptin assigns each beetle a ball of poop twice as high as itself to roll across the yard to the Designated Poop Beetle Warehouse, which we still have not discovered.
photo credit: Cap’n Firepants

Rebel Poop Beetles, looking for political asylum, roll their poop balls out of the yard and onto the concrete patio.
photo credit: Cap’n Firepants

In about an hour, the pile of poop is gone.  No sign that it ever existed.  I’m not sure where it goes.  But, as long as it isn’t in my suitcase, I’m good with this process.

We’ve talked about bringing a pack of Poop Bugs back to our house, so we would never have to scoop Wonderbutt’s Poop Pen again.  We’ve talked about breeding them, and marketing them to pet owners and parents of potty training toddlers.

But none of us wants to touch them.

So, instead, for twenty years, we have watched the Poop Bugs perform their magic, and dreamed of making millions of dollars off these remarkably disgusting, but industrious little creatures.

Just one of the many highlights of our weekends at The Ranch…

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