Monday, May 19, 2003

Yet another one of our somehow legendary potlucks last night; this time, Rick put flyers in the mailboxes of the other three houses on our street that sport peace signs in their yards. One of the couples did come to the party; it turns out that they already knew some of the other people there, and the wife works in the WMU institute for which I did some teaching last fall. We'd walked by each other in the corridors dozens of times without realizing we were neighbors.

Finished The Ants, and am using the "lite" version, Journey to the Ants, as bedtime reading and a general review. Also started reading Crozier and Pamilo's Evolution of Social Insect Colonies, which is more technical but an excellent text for tying up all the loose ends of my scattered knowledge of this branch of evolutionary theory.

Also had a real-live encounter with social insects, when I pulled the old Clot into a friend's driveway with slightly too little clearance to the left, and dislodged a loose stone from the wall between their house and the next. The exposed crevice was swarming with ants -- I suspect Tetramorium caespitum, but I may be completely full of frass here -- and they were NOT happy to have had their eggs and pupae compromised. I reached down to replace the stone, and my hand was instantly covered with a roiling mass of the Ladies' Hymenopteran Nursery and Defense Force. Encounters with ants always make me wonder about A Bug's Life. No grasshoppers would ever get away with shaking down ants for food. They'd be ant food in the space of a few minutes. But that story wouldn't have sustained a full-length animated feature.


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