May

20

Quaker Army Ants

May 20, 2021 |

I am perhaps the only resident of Slab City to not be molested by fire ants. My familiarity began with a child’s ant farm that developed last year into the Quaker Army Ants.  

They nested under my shipping container where I began feeding them Quaker Oats that resulted in the largest, most energetic, and shiny soldiers of the desert. They dug so deep that summer it undermined the trailer and the door swang shut trapping their commander inside. I had to sledge hammer my way out. 

Their training then began, as I’ve forever fancied leading an army on charge. I left my dirty socks on the ground to accustom them to my odor, and soon could lie down and let them crawl over me without a bite or sting administered by grabbing the flesh with the mandibles, rearing back the abdomen, and injecting the stinger. These are red harvester ants dietarily enhanced to nearly double-size.  

I constructed a maze of a Palo Verde tree blocking off certain limbs with a spray of WD-40 until they zigged and zagged to the top for a reward of Quaker Oats. I stomped my feet and they came running to climb my legs into my pockets for oats. Encouraged, I fashioned a 20-ant wagon from a matchbox and dental floss rein with single oat bits ten along each side. The first 20 ants take the bits and pull the wagon ten yards to their nest where, they disappear down the hole and the wagon jams at the entrance. They chew off the rein and leave the coach that I fill with oats for another run. Commanding the army is like playing General Patton.  

Horses, mules, and ox pull 20-team wagons but only in Slab City do Quaker Army Ants.  

 


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