Saturday, April 29, 2017
Ain't It a Ant?
Although it has been awhile since I've mentioned my hummingbird feeder, I've truly been enjoying it. Watching the little birds come and go all day is such a treat--there's a hungry male hummer feeding right now as I type, and he's staying at the feeder much longer than usual.
Why is he so very hungry today?
Well, much as a dislike to have to say so: ants.
My earlier Hummingbird Feeder Ant Battles were with black sugar ants. When I decided to use a planter pole instead of hanging the feeder from the eaves, the ants and I came to a sort of truce. They stopped climbing all over the house because the feeder drips (most do) and they simply made a small mound under the feeder; that was something I could choose to ignore. The ants were happy. The birds were happy. I was happy. All good.....until this morning when a different sort of ant found the feeder.
As I sat at my desk, I noticed that the birds were approaching the feeder and then flying away without feeding. Once or twice seemed ordinary enough but when it happened more than a dozen times in a half hour, I knew something was wrong. That's when I noticed a great big ant positioned right over the feeder hole. An hour later, it was joined by compatriots. Near as I can tell, these large orange ants are Florida Carpenter Ants.
I didn't feel like engaging in another battle, so I had a mug or two of tea first. In the intervening time, something else happened that turned this into a rescue operation instead: several ants got into the feeder itself and were hysterically swimming for their lives. That was something I simply could not bear.
I don't enjoy suffering myself. No one does, do they? So it follows that I cannot enjoy seeing another creature suffering. If something has to die, it should be over as quickly and painlessly as possible. As a human being, it is my duty to be a good steward regarding the creatures that come under my care, and that includes ants. We all belong to God. If we see suffering and fail to relieve it, that kinda falls under the nasty old Sin category. I might be annoyed by those ants but I had a job to do: I took the feeder down and let them out.
I filled a fresh feeder for the birds, and I sprinkled Diatomaceous Earth around the bottom of the planter pole. The birds don't deserve to suffer either, and the ants were keeping them from feeding. Just because I rescued the ants doesn't mean that I want them to prosper.
Insects are always a problem here in the warm and humid environment of South Mississippi. It's not hard to draw a line in some matters: yes, I believe in bug spraying the house because roaches are dirty and I don't want them anywhere near me, because fleas (which I am currently dealing with as I must every springtime) can cause illness, because it's a matter of maintenance and common sense. And, yes, I will also kill fire ants because they are dangerous and can kill (as I've mentioned before, my stepfather nearly died of fire ant bites), although I do try to use environmentally friendly methods whenever I can (cinnamon, grits, and so forth). But I don't kill spiders or wasps or bees--those I trap and release.
We are all partners in this world, and we each have a job to do. An ant can no more help being an ant than I can stop being a human. I still don't want them messing with my birdfeeder, though.
Life is good.
Really. Even for ants.