Flying ant day

Odd, that the first flying ant day of this year should come on the heels of the blue moon event last night; but today saw the ground throughout my little city and even the beach crawling with winged ants. While I try to extend respect to all creatures, I will admit that ants are a group of creatures I am not overly fond of. For some reason, I’m able to smell them fairly well – the telltale smell of formic acid that many smell when ants get crushed, I smell long before then, and the smell is not a comfortable one for me; so I will avoid groups or concentrations of ants when possible. What many laud as a great quality of ants – their single-minded, or hive-minded approach to socialization and cooperation – as something that would be nice if humanity might learn from, I see as somewhat horrifying (I treasure individuality too much, I guess).

One might think that I might at least draw some satisfaction from the fact that when ants mate, the male ant, having played his part, invariably suffers his reproductive organ exploding inside his mate, which leads to his immediate death. But I do not draw satisfaction from this – rather, I see this expression of la petite mort as just another reason to let ants be ants, and leave them to it.

What I think is interesting about this day, though, has to do with the idea that a desired weather condition seems to be hardwired into the ant species, to cause so many ants to spontaneously leave their nests and start mating all over the sidewalks. I find this interesting because while modern scientists are still scratching their heads as to how this actually works, spiders have obviously figured out how to predict it – this morning, before the ants were all over the place, I noticed a much larger number of spider webs that seem to have just sprung up since yesterday (I will usually trust the hatching of baby spiders more than the actions of birds to predict rain). Thus it is not only a comfort to realize that we haven’t figured out and codified everything in our world, it is encouraging to know that other creatures are still a step or two ahead of us!

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