The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Rick Brockway

August 9, 2013

Some ants can be a 
royal pain

The other day my cousin emailed me some information on an insect that was new to me – the lionant.

Now this creature is neither a lion nor an ant but a seemingly intelligent insect that makes a cone-like depression in the sand. It then hides in the bottom and catches ants as they wander through its trap. The lionant feeds on the bodily fluids of the insects it catches. I guess my unfamiliarity is because we don’t have a lot of sand here, but we have our share of ants. 

Later that day I was bush-hogging the waist-high goldenrod from a section of our old pasture. All of a sudden there was thumping noise as the fast moving blades of the mower took off the top of an ant hill. The dirt flew and ants were scattered as the nest was remolded to ground level. It was a normal thing, but it gave me something to think about as I went back and forth across the field for the next monotonous hour. 

A few years ago, Pat and I went to Texas to visit her sister. That was the first time I encountered fire ants. 

Fire ants are an invasive species that hitchhiked to the U.S. on a cargo ship that docked in Mobile, Ala., in the 1930s. Over the years they spread all across the south and southwest and have caused billions of dollars in damage.

Fire ants are very aggressive and attack anything that gets near their nest. That’s where I enter the story.

My wife wanted to bring home some prickly pear cactus, so it was my job to collect a few of the pads that she could put into the soil to grow. After all they have beautiful blooming flowers every once in a while. 

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Rick Brockway

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