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June 5, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

What to do with Missy A

Dramatic woman dancing. Buterfly dance, 1923. Cover of Vanity Fair by Nickolas Muray. (USPD. pub.date, artist life/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Oh, Isadora was right…she just should have tucked in her scarf. I shall not be so foolish.” (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Breezy. A sweet spirit. A Tree Sprite, she fashions herself.

Hussy. Somehow, despite our efforts, she’s calling them to her.

We’ve tried to tell her, “They only want one thing”, but she shrugs and climbs farther out on that limb.

Oh, Missy A, they’ll corral you and turn you into a homebody.

“The sap is rising”, old timers chuckle as they shake their heads. Knowing it’s impossible to stop.

Woman sitting on table. Cecille Evans. 1925 publicity photo. (USPD. pub.date, Artist life/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“Too cute to be told what to do.” Looking for trouble or just plain trouble? (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Every spring the same thing: we happily sit on the back deck, under the sweeping awning of the Crepe Myrtle only to be bombarded by large ants dropping out of trees.

We’re pretty sure it’s not a suicide leap – only an ant shortcut back to the ground.

You see, aphids sip on Crepe Myrtle sap and they know the ants know.

We’ve admonished the flirty little hussy: Do not let the ants stroke your tummy! Aphids never listen.

Oh, we’ve heard the justification “They protect us!”.

 But there’s a price for everything.

An abdomen caress ends up with sticky honey dew being secreted. A highly desired ant delicacy.

Ants turn the foolish aphids into cows to be herded and farmed.

Elegant couple dancing. Vernon Blythe Caste and Irene Castle. 1913 (USPD.pub.date, artist life, LoC/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“You worry over nothing. His devotion is obvious.” (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

But right now the ants aren’t bothering to move their sweeties.

They are just climbing up the trunk and after loading up on honeydew, they head home leaping large sans parachute.

It’s just not fun being an ant landing zone.

Especially if snacks or cups are on the table. (Suspiciously close to those…and after already “visiting” the aphids…Really?)

They never bite or anything.

The best outcome is to simply, gently, brush them off.

Getting transported indoor on hair or clothing doesn’t end well: the cat loves organic playthings…

We don’t use any pesticides in the yard, but the unexpected ant flybys are annoying.

You can wrap fly paper around the tree trunks to stop the ants…

But that’s kinda ant torture…you would see them struggling so desperately. Legs ripped off. Just can’t do it.

Pretty soon the Lady Bugs, an aphid predator, will be out in force and the ants will either move their cuties or the aphids will become a meal for the Ladies who lunch.

fancy dressed couple stylishly dancing. 1914(USPD. pub.date, artist, life, LoC/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“Walk this way…”(USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

After that, any ant appearing nonchalantly by snacks on the table will be discouraged: Launched – Hey, they’re used to it! Call it prep for aphid husbandry.

Not the hand sweeps one prefers to become expert with.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Group of ants with a grasshopper. 1919 Ants and Grasshopper fable. (USPD. Pub.date, artist life/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“Look, guys. The Queen was very clear. Ignore this slacker and focus on schumoozing the A-listed gals.” (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

 

17 Comments

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  1. easyweimaraner / Jun 5 2020 6:44 am

    maybe the phrase ants in the pants came from someone with a big garden?

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jun 5 2020 7:38 am

      I think you’er right. (Right now don’t sit down without brushing off the chair seat….good we have a smaller yard with only 2 tall sweeping limb trees in the backyard…the palm trees don’t seem to welcome either one – but the song birds love the tall stage.
      Thanks for being itching to leave a comment

      Like

  2. 1bl0gr3ad3r / Jun 5 2020 8:04 am

    Could you use the easy up/down frame of a camping canopy, but instead of the plastic or canvas cover, drape mosquito netting as a cloaking device from drop-in visitors? Had no idea about the aphid’s relationship with ants, but did know lady bugs love to lunch (I always hear Elaine Stritch in my head with that!) Love the illustrations you chose today – your research is so incredible!!

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jun 5 2020 8:55 am

      If you are outdoors, there’s gonna be bugs…or it’s called Disneyland. HAHA Honestly it’s rather funny as long as the ants are so seriously on a mission to head home….but if they head for the snack, a whole different thing. Appreciate the kind words. Thanks for dropping in to chat

      Like

  3. Curt Mekemson / Jun 5 2020 9:43 am

    I’ve always loved the fact that ants are into aphid farming. What a wonderful quirk of nature. First time I’ve read about there quick return home, but then I have never sat under farming ants. (BTW, leaf cutting ants and carpenter ants are also great fun to watch—the latter only as far as it isn’t your house they are eating. I also enjoyed watching arm ants in Africa as long as they weren’t attacking our house— even scarier than bears!) Thanks for a fun tale, Phil. I always enjoy how you incorporate photos. –Curt

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jun 5 2020 2:09 pm

      Ant farmers are a real life fractal? Now Africa has some serious ant and some organize and fly. Nooo, not ant air forces!
      We’ll just deal and coexist with the busy, benign locals. Thanks for stacking up a comment

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson / Jun 5 2020 2:49 pm

        You never, ever want an army ant to latch on to you! Been there, done that. 🙂

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        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jun 5 2020 3:37 pm

          Sounds like Fire Ants – they will swarm and kill fawns, cattle, small animals – and go for the eyes/nose seeking water. Avoid the ants – all variations!

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          • Curt Mekemson / Jun 5 2020 4:58 pm

            I’ve spent enough time in the South to recognize that wisdom! –Curt

            Like

  4. Kate Crimmins / Jun 5 2020 12:20 pm

    Your story reminds me of an event. A long time ago I was on a departmental retreat at a “rustic” cabin the woods destination. I had driven a few colleagues there. We got out of the car and gypsy moths were dropping from the trees. You had to dodge them to get into the cabin. We spent most of the weekend inside! We were able to get the cabin on short notice because no one in their right mind goes there mid-June during gypsy moth season! Argh!

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jun 5 2020 2:01 pm

      Gads it sound like you walked into Hitchcock’s “The Birds” movie. Some years the Love Bug season here is just as bad – the roadways are slick. The winter/weather must have been just right for Aphids – a couple of bushes are looking a bit wimpy from too many aphids. Do you think the Lady Bugs are unaware that travel and dining restrictions have been lifted?
      Thanks for carefully flying in a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  5. sustainabilitea / Jun 5 2020 5:19 pm

    I wouldn’t want ants dropping from trees on me, either, or climbing up my leg or whatever. Of course they’re better in many (all?) ways than ticks, a problem in the part of France where my s-i-l and b-i-l live. We have to bundle up even when it’s hot and then look very careful when we get home. She has to check the dogs as well. NOT fun in any way and one of their dogs got sick from a tick bite and eventually had to be put down.

    janet

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jun 9 2020 5:58 pm

      Ticks are very creepy. Never realized France also had tick invasions. – There were 3 types/sizes at the farm. The grey ones that mainly bothered livestock got huge. Check for tick hitchhikers after being in woods of fields was routine for us, too.
      In retrospect, the ants are much less a problem. Both itch worthy though.
      Thanks for scratching the surface of this problem.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. shoreacres / Jun 5 2020 7:52 pm

    What? Are you feeling antsy? I can affirm that the aphids are running amok out on the prairies. They adore milkweed, and they’ve shown up in abundance. I’ve seen ladybugs gnoshing on them, but no ants — of course, there aren’t any crape myrtles out there, either. There’s some kind of ant that swarms at some time of year, but I can’t remember exactly when. I just know that when they show up, they seem to gravitate toward boats. Maybe they’re just more noticeable there. They fly, drop their wings, and then crawl off to wherever. So many mysteries!

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jun 9 2020 6:08 pm

      I remember those winged ant invasions. YUCKY. Really happy about the milkweed thriving report – the butterflies need that! Monarchs cruise around the Lantana and a few other bloomers we have, but if milkweed draws aphids, we’ll skip those…enough nature’s predators already.
      So darn hot and humid today, Gads…and summer is just starting. Melting..melting..melting.
      Stay cool and watch out for overprotective mockingbird moms…dive bombing like crazy…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. angelswhisper2011 / Jun 7 2020 1:53 am

    Philmouse, I think you need Pied Piper to lead them all into another direction😺Pawkisses for a Happy Sunday🐾😽💞

    Like

  8. The Coastal Crone / Jun 7 2020 10:37 am

    Raining ants? Not fun. My wine always seems to attract gnats and flies. I can see them in Chardonnay but I almost swallowed one floating in my Cabernet. Ah, summer time. Mosquitoes have not been bad so far. Stay safe. Love the photos!

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