Monday, July 26, 2004

Just washed off a sweaty cocktail of sunblock, DEET, and formic acid, which had built up in layers after we first re-annoyed the Formica exsectoides in the Allegan State Game Area and then chopped up some of the weedy trees that are taking over our yard. The first task is something I've blogged about in the past; just as I did on my first excursion to the ant mounds last year, I was trying to ascertain whether the ants were rearing reproductives yet. I didn't see any queen or drone pupae, nor any pupae at all for that matter, and Cathy had given me strict instructions to avoid destroying any mounds by digging too deeply, so I gave up after an hour or so. There's really little incentive to dig too far into an F. exsectoides mound, and quite a lot not to, because the little buggers (as previously noted) are ferocious as hell, defend their nests like a militia chapter on crank, and occur in immense numbers -- probably literally tens of millions in a large colony. If I wanted to come up with a mildly crude "bug-off" T-shirt slogan that would be appreciated by most eastern U.S. myrmecologists without question, I think this one would work:

20,000,000 Allegheny Mound Ants Can't Be Wrong

As for the weedy trees: What I can't understand is how -- if Rick can spend about seven or eight hours chopping, hacking, and bundling away, and I help for at least a third of that time -- we still seem to have exactly the same biomass of weedy trees around our property? I think we should forget the yardwork and put in a vine swing. The appropriate leopard-print athletic wear shouldn't be hard to find, given the number of retro-themed used clothing stores around Kalamazoo.


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