If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Ants Come Marching

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah,
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah,
The little one stops to suck his thumb,
And they all go marching down in the ground
To get out of the rain, Boom! Boom! Boom!

The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah,
The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah,
 The little one stops to tie his shoe,
And they all go marching down in the ground
To get out of the rain, Boom! Boom! Boom!

And the song goes on and on although these weren’t the exact words I remember from when my Cub Scouts and later my Girl Scouts sang it. The last two lines have changed.
These are 10 or more times larger than my ants.

Ants have invaded my kitchen – little teeny, teeny ants I can barely see. They shouldn’t be here now because there is snow on the ground. However, a few weeks ago it warmed up, and maybe they have a home in the crawl space under my kitchen. I don’t know, but I even found them in my microwave where those died, but not the tiny ones behind the clock on the microwave that look like little pieces of black thread. And even though I keep washing my counter tops and spray them with window cleaner, they keep returning.

I’ll worry about taking care of those little critters later. What I want to write about today are ants, a fascinating insect. I first got interested in them when what looked like termites outside our house years ago. I looked them up to see if they were termites and found out they were a type of ant. That morning I spent an hour or more reading all about them in volume one of The World Book Encyclopedia.  And before I wrote this article I read it again.

Every year I get ants in my house. It’s an old house and even though it’s been remodeled, these little critters still have a way to get in. Just as annoying is when they build nests in my flower gardens. Still ants are interesting in that they have communities much as people do. Well, we don’t live underground, but they have a social order and their communities are organized. Each community may be as small as a dozen or so, or hundreds or thousands of ants. Each colony has one or several queens. I imagine it depends on the size of the colony. The queen’s job is to lay eggs. Most of the ants are workers, and most of those workers are females, too.  The workers build the nest, search for food and fight off enemies. The male’s job?  It’s only to mate with the queen. What a life for him! Although not so much, really because after he mates with the queen he soon dies. I guess I’d rather be a worker if I were an ant.

There are so many different kinds of ants. Army ants, for instance, live by hunting other insects. Some kinds of army ants march across the land in enormous swarms eating most of the insects they meet. Some ants are slave makers invading other ant nests and steal the young which they raise as slaves.  Harvester ants gather seeds and store them in their nests, while dairying ants keep insects that give off a sweet liquid when the ants milk them. There are fungus growing ants that carry pieces of leaves to their nest to fertilize gardens of fungus. Weaver ants make nests from leaves. Several ants hold two leaves together while others carry silk-spinning larvae (developing ants) across the edge.

Ants live everywhere on land except in very cold areas. There are at least ten thousand different kinds of ants and probably more. In spite of their small size, they are stronger than one would imagine. Some can lift objects ten times the size of their bodies. 

Ants use their antennae to communicate by smelling one another to see if they’re nest mates. They are organs of touch, taste, hearing and smell.

In 1994, I ordered the book Naturalist by Edward O. Wilson, who had been interested in ants since he was a child. It was a fascinating book and someday, I hope to read it again. He won a lot of praise for that book. If you want to learn more about ants, I highly recommend reading Naturalist by Edward O. Wilson. It was more than just a book about ants, but his life story of how he became a University Professor at Harvard, won two Pulitzer prizes, and worked as a scientist who has written more books than just this one.

On the back cover – “One of the greatest scientific autobiographies ever written. An extraordinary self-analysis of a scientist and what makes up his emotional and intellectual psychic, it is at once passionate, honest, and beautifully written.” Alan Lightman, author or Einstein’s Dreams

What do you know about ants?  Do you ever have problems with ants?
Are there any other insects you find interesting?


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

We were plagued by sugar ants in Atlanta. After a hard rain, they would march by the thousands under the deck door straight to the pantry, where they would find an open box of cereal.

We also had fire ants. The kids learned at an early age not to step in an ant mound.

Grace Topping said...

Interesting blog, Gloria. Every spring we are invaded by ants--by the scores. As soon as I see them, I put out cotton balls soaked in a solution of hot water, sugar, and boric acid. Thousands of ants come to feed on them and then take it back to the nest. I won't describe what happens, but it works. From doing research I learned that ants don't carry disease, but I still don't want them in my house. I feel guilty wiping out a colony of ants, but I find it disgusting to open my dishwasher and find that they've made a home in it. Note: Be careful putting out these cotton balls if you have children or pets. Put the cotton balls somewhere they can't can't be reached easily like behind a piece of furniture. And put a piece of wax paper under them to protect your floors. Believe me, it works.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret fortunately we don't have fire ants in the north, but with global warming I'm afraid we'll soon get them. Still some of the ants nests I disturb in my gardens has ants running up my arms and biting, too.

Grace, I spread borax around the back of my counters yesterday evening after I cleaned them off. This morning I've only seen a couple of those little ants. I hope it will keep them away.

KM Rockwood said...

I've used the borax-and-sugar-water, too, and it does seem to work. Every once in a while, we get ants in the house, but haven't seen any inside for a few years now. We did, however, have a nest in the mailbox! We swept it out, brushed the solution on the insides and post, and the problem went away. We did, however, have to remember not to put mail to be picked up in the mailbox, and to deal with any sticky mail as it came in.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, a nest in the mailbox??? I've used the borax and sugar bit on ant hills, now I think I'll add sugar to the borax on my counters too, because I still saw a few of them today. How they're getting in my microwave is beyond me, especially behind the lighted clock on the outside. They're the tiniest ants I've ever seen.

Kait said...

I think this house was built on an ant mound. When we moved in we had ants running up the back splash. We discovered Truly Nolen stickers under the kitchen cabinet and called. Yep, the folks before us had a contract they had let lapse six months before they sold the house. Whatever the TN chap sprays (he comes 4 times a year) does the trick. We don't see any more ants until just before he's due. He doesn't put anything down inside, says whatever he puts down outside is pet-friendly (but we have cats who do not go out and we are careful not to go out ourselves until it dries so we don't track it in. I always have borax in the house, use it as a laundry booster, I can sprinkle that outside with sugar and hot water around the foundation for a touch-up. Great advice.

Once between treatments we had a zillion ants (the tiny ones that Gloria is describing) in the bathroom that had been built to accommodate the swimming pool. The TN man came and discovered they had built a nest in the toilet tank! I called them TidyBowl ants after that.

Gloria Alden said...

Kait, that's funny. I'm not sure these ants don't have a nest somewhere in the side of the microwave where all the gadgets are that you punch to operate it. I hadn't thought of that.
My two cats haven't gotten up on the counter in years so I imagine if I mix some sugar with
the borax behind the toaster and other stuff on my counter it will be okay.