a jar of ants

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you up to date on all the excitement around here. You may remember me from such posts as “The Upended Breakfast”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I look reasonably alert, don’t I? There’s a reason for that, which I’ll get to in a minute.

About the only things, gardening-wise, that have happened lately are the oaks got planted and the “trough patio” was cleaned up a bit.Besides that bit of activity, there has been other activity.

A couple of nights ago, the guy I live with decided to refill the hummingbird feeders, because that needs to be done pretty much every day, when it’s hot. (It’s been hot, trust me.) So he brought one of the feeders in; the sugar-syrup stuff had black flecks in it. The flecks turned out to be ants. Big black ants. Not as big as the giant ones we had a while ago, but still big. He poured the sugar-syrup into the sink. Most of the ants revived, and began to run around in the sink.

He got out one of the “bug jars”, and started catching ants. When the second ant went into the jar, the first would run out and then run up his arm. And so on. So there was a lot of language, while he tried to catch all the ants.

Eventually he did catch all the ants, and so there was a jar full of ants. Not really full of ants, but with ants.He let them go, out on the back patio. “You always let ants go”, he said. I knew that. They help spread seed of cyclamen, crocuses, and snowdrops.

So that was the ants-in-a-jar thing. The other thing, well……you’re not going to see any pictures of the other thing, so don’t worry. 

Just yesterday, the guy I live with was talking on the phone to a friend. We were both out in the garden. He heard a sound like a sprinkler head gone bad; a sputtering, you know, like shhhh-shhhh-shhhh, with a lot of air being released.

He looked down, and saw a huge reptilian tail disappear under the trough. This trough.He started yelling at me, really loudly (while he was still on the phone), and yelling louder and louder. Finally he hung up the phone, and made me go inside.

He called Animal Control and said there was a rattlesnake in the garden.

Animal Control said to spray water at it, with the hose. From “a safe distance”. Apparently rattlesnakes don’t like to be hosed off in the summer. So he attached a sprayer head to the hose and shot water at the base of the trough.

Nothing happened. No snake. The guy I live with totally panicked. I mean, obviously, neither of us would ever be able to go outside again.

Then he had a thought. It was kind of odd that he could both panic and have rational thoughts at the same time. He called another friend who has had experience with rattlesnakes and asked what they sounded like.

“Like rattling?”

“Pretty much. And bullsnakes make a noise sort of like that, but not rattling.”

So he went online and watched bullsnake-noise videos. It was a bullsnake. The guy I live with has seen plenty of bullsnakes here (so have I; they’re huge), and he saw the rattle-less tail, but totally freaked out at the noise. He knew they made a noise, but had never heard the noise before. When he heard the noise, it cancelled out everything else in his mind.

So then he had to call everyone back and say “Bullsnake” instead of “We have to move tomorrow”.

He told me he felt like kind of an idiot. I didn’t say anything.

We almost didn’t go on our evening walk because the guy I live with was afraid we’d meet up with the bullsnake and he’d feel like even more of an idiot when it started making the noise he’d never heard before, but we did go on our walk.

And guess what we saw?

Until next time, then.


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8 Responses to a jar of ants

  1. bittster says:

    Yikes! That’s a lot of excitement for one afternoon, but I have to say you handled it well… and as usual were very understanding of the guy you live with and very wise as to adding your two cents in or not.
    I have plenty of wildlife company in the garden, but would also draw the line at rattlesnakes.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; I agree that we have to draw the line somewhere. The guy I live with says we can’t have blister beetles in the garden, either, because I might try to eat them, and get blisters on my tongue. Or worse. There was a Japanese beetle on me, today. We stopped to talk to a neighbor and she saw it crawling on me. I don’t know where it came from. I took care of it. They’re pretty good.

      • Nell says:

        If you come east, Mani, you can snack to your heart’s content on the Japanese beetles here. Available from summer solstice until August…

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with says then they wouldn’t be a delicacy. I’ve only tried one. I guess they have infestations of them in parts of the Denver metro area, and other cities. We’re right out on the western fringe, as maybe you can tell from the pictures (see Chess’s post, “Where We Live”), and they say the beetles prefer wetter areas, like watered lawns and things like that.

  2. Oh, my. Just. Oh. My. No snakes here – lizards – so I would not know how to deal. You are so brave. As for the guy you live with — I’m sure it was all about you, Mani. BTW, yelling whilst on the telephone, are they still friends? About rattlesnakes, I would have to leave the vicinity, and the state. Hire someone to pack up the second-best Pottery Barn sheets, etc., and light out for the territories. House for sale down the street from me, just saying. KickStarter campaign, always a possibility. Such an interwebz thing would majorly up your sophistication level, Mani. Sophistication good in the face of snakes, and, oh my heavens, tongue blisters. Tell the guy I would have the same idiotic response.

    • paridevita says:

      Yes, I am super brave. Fearless, even. It was funny, in a sort of ha-ha funny way, that the guy I live with had just been to the county courthouse, to deliver some tax papers because he’s a senior citizen (yes, he is), and there was a sign, “Caution, rattlesnakes in area”, and he remarked to a passerby that he’d lived here since 1961 and had never seen one, and then later there was this, as G.B. Shaw put it, “rumbustious tiddly-fol-lol” about what he thought was a rattlesnake but only (only….) turned out to be a bullsnake. Which in itself means a fairly giant snake. Say three or four inches wide and three or four feet long. He probably came close to stepping on it which made it angry. The guy I live with has been trying to wean me from my habit of eating any bug that runs across the patio, or anywhere else. but so far he hasn’t succeeded. I bet because he’s never tried them. He also does not kill bugs, on principle. But in this case, since I can’t help myself, the blister beetles have to go. A capful of Dr. Bronner’s in a regular spray bottle filled with water does them in, on contact.

  3. mjkeane says:

    Mani, you are the BEST! I love your posts. You’re a keen observer of the ironic. Best of all, you always make me smile!

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