The Back Yard Zoo by Jim Dunlap

Jim Dunlap     You would never guess where I found an ant. No it was not at a family reunion. That is a different ant. This one was doing the Australian crawl in the men's room urinal. I noticed him and then rushed out and into the lobby. Tammy, our office manager extraordinare, watched me come out, race to get my camera, and then sprint back into the men's room. She had opened her mouth to ask, but then decided it might be best not to know.

     We have a yearly pass-through of these huge black carpenter ants here at the Living Materials Center. This sterile, female worker ant measures about a half inch in length. The fertile males and females stay in the nest which is usually an excavated cavity in a log. She is equipped with a formidable set of jaws and can bite, not sting, with a lot of authority. Carpenter ants do not eat wood but tunnel inside. They are usually found in the deep woods, but if they invade your deck or house they can cause considerable damage. They eat other insects and just about anything sweet.

     I fished the water-treading ant from the urinal and put her outside. She seemed pleased with the change of venue. I'll never know just how the ant got into that marvelously engineered trough of porcelain. I searched the immediate area and found no other ants. There were also no uncles, nephews or cousins. Go figure.


Jim Dunlap, jim.dunlap@pisd.edu


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