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Don’t Report Me for Antabuse

I set a box of ants on the dining room table, and I am now sitting in the back of the house wondering if that was a wise decision, considering that our bulldog, Wonderbutt, likes to eat cardboard and doesn’t like it when I leave him alone in the front of the house.  But, I am too lazy to go save the ants from Wonderbutt, and besides I am doing very important research.  I must find out how long ants can live in a box, because I did not expect them to arrive this quickly.  My second graders do not come to class again until Monday, and they will be very disappointed if I release the ants into their new habitat without any witnesses.  However, they will probably be even more disappointed if I open the box and a bunch of dead ants fall out.

The last time I ordered ants, I followed the directions carefully for the transfer from box to ant farm.  It was highly recommended that the insects be refrigerated for awhile so that they would become sluggish, thus rendering them less hostile as I vigorously shook their package to allow them to fall into their new home.  Perhaps not surprisingly, this “sluggish” period was fairly short – about 1/10 of a second, and I immediately had ants that “might bite” racing all over the table while my 3rd graders gleefully tried to catch them. Death reports flooded in.  “I think I stepped on that one.”  “This one just jumped off the side of the table.  It’s not moving anymore.”  After a 20 minute round-up and thirty minutes of carefully inspecting the classroom, I think we got about 10 ants of the original 40 into the ant farm.

Once they were in between glass, the ants were fascinating to watch.  So, remembering the delight and new respect for small creatures that it gave my students, I decided to repeat the disaster this year.

So far, I have had no luck discovering how long ants can live in a box, but my Googling Genius has revealed that ants can wreak havoc if they decide to nest in your Apple iBook.  You will be happy to know that there is an entire thread in the Apple Support Community that will give you advice on how to deal with this nasty problem.

I suppose that I have procrastinated long enough – and it is ominously quiet in the Wonderbutt section of the house.  It is quite possible that he has swallowed the box whole.  Or, even more likely, that he has ripped it to shreds and there are now ants crawling all over the dining room.

Maybe if I had a more appealing ant habitat, the little guys would be less inclined to attempt their Alcatrazian escapes.

What I really need is a new habitat for Wonderbutt…


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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