Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I'm trying to figure out what the proper etiquette is for collecting ants during the outdoor events at one's 25th college reunion. I expect that using the crumbs of hors d'oeuvres for bait is a bit tacky, not to mention whipping an ethyl acetate jar and alcohol vials out of one's handbag while everyone else is trying to sip their beer and munch their cocktail shrimp without noticing. Then again, my classmates always knew I was a little weird, and there's not any reason why the intervening years should have changed anything.

Maybe I'll stick to collecting the ants in my mom's yard when I get there afterwards. At least Mom will appreciate every minute of my efforts, since she definitely doesn't like ants. I still remember the night, about 30 years ago, when a Camponotus queen walked up my mother's ankle in our living room. I still remember Mom's reflexive kick that sent the ant flying; damned shame that there weren't any pro football scouts in the room. I'm sure the ant was surprised as well; she was obviously a mated queen, because she'd torn her own wings off by then, and her tiny little ant brain probably harbored no expectations of ever flying again. She got one final taste of being airborne before my mother pureed her beneath a sneaker. Ever since then, I've had real empathy for the dangers faced by hymenopteran reproductives.

It's also just as well that one can no longer purchase an 84% solution of chlordane in a garden shop. My mother hated ants so much that she used to splash the baseboards with this solution -- undiluted -- at the sight of a single carpenter-ant worker. I think her yard must still harbor the biggest population of chlordane-resistant ants in the state. As for the level of exposure that we primates must have received: It's probably for the best that I never had children.


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