Ant Tales One
Honey's First Adventure.
In the middle of the flower meadow stood a bush. At the bottom of this bush, where the sun shone all day, was the home of Honey, a black meadow ant. Honey was always busy digging or looking for food to feed to her sisters. The queen of the nest was called Queeny, and she was very old. Now Queeny had a lovely daughter called Princess Petal. How Petal longed for a handsome Prince ant to marry; but all the Princes and Princess's from across the meadow, always passed over her home on their wedding flights. Poor Petal had wings, but what good were they if she did not have anyone to fly with. Deep in the nest, Honey had laid an egg; though she did not tell Queeny, as worker ants were not supposed to lay eggs. It was not long before the egg hatched; and from it came the most handsome young Prince ant, with a fine pair of gossamer wings.
Honey and her sisters gather berries to feed the colony.
Illustration by Sue York 2008.
Well word soon got about the ant nest that Princess Petal now had a fine Prince to go on a wedding flight with. The Princes name was Gall, because he was so good looking and GallANT (get it?). Gall and his bride Petal climbed up the tall bush, and with a flap of their wings and a breeze from the hill by the meadow, were off into the sky for their wedding. Later that day, after Gall and Petal had their honeymoon, they decided to return home to the nest. Gall was so happy, he did not see the big bird until it was too late. In an instant the skylark gobbled poor Gall up! Petal did not hear the sad news until she got home, when a scout ant told her the sad news. Other bad news came the day after. Her mum, Queeny was very ill, and could not lay anymore eggs. Oh dear!! What would happen to the nest if no more babies were born? Just then, along came Honey. Don't worry Petal, she told the Princess; soon you will have your own babies from your marriage to Gall. My, what a clever little ant she was; so all's well again in the nest of the meadow ants!!
Honey Goes Out Hunting.
Honey was feeling really tired, she had been up all night in the nursery; and boy were those baby ants hungry. She had fed them 12 caterpillars, 4 flies and a very large beetle; but they always wanted more!! "Well", cried Honey, "I'll just have to go down to the meadow for more food". She had a quick wash, combed her feelers with the brushes on her legs; and then sped off into the bright summer sunshine. Along the path leading to the meadow, she met Dewdrop; another worker ant from Honey's nest. "Good day"said Dewdrop,"please be careful if you're going to the meadow, only the soldier ants tell me there is a big toad who has been gobbling up poor little ants like us". Honey stopped for a moment, "Has he indeed; thanks for the warning Dewdrop, I'll watch out for him". So,with Dewdrops warning in mind, Honey dashed along the path to the meadow.
She had not gone far, when suddenly, as if by magic, out sprung the big toad. "I'm going to gobble you up for my lunch little ant", he said in a deep,booming voice. "Fine", said Honey,"you may do so, if you can tell me the answer to my riddle". The toad stood and thought awhile, looking quite perplexed with a deep furrow on his brow, then he said;"Ask away then, I'm good at guessing riddles". "Here you go then" replied Honey, "What is big, black with wings, and goes 'caw,caw' ", asked Honey. The toad scratched his head for a moment, deep in thought trying to find the answer. He was so busy thinking, he did not hear the big raven that swooped down until it was too late. The big bird grabbed up the toad in its beak and flew off with him. "Thank goodness for my friend Raven", said Honey. Raven had told her before that he didn't eat ants, as they helped him to clean his feathers of fleas and ticks and other nasty irritating pests; but a nice fat juicy toad, well that was a meal fit for a hungry bird.
Honey returned to her nest later that same day, dragging a nice big fat juicy caterpillar along to feed the baby ants with, none the worse for her adventure in the meadow. She really was such a clever little ant; but for now, she could hear the babies crying for food again. "Oh well", she said, "a nurse ants work is never done"!!
Honey Moves House.
Word in the anthill was that the scouts had found a much nicer place for the meadow ants to live in. Princess Petal, who was now the new Queen of the meadow ants nest, decided that a change was as good as a rest and so she happily agreed to move home. The ants were all so busy that morning, packing their belongings for the big move. "Oh, bother and wasps wings", said Dewdrop, the smallest of the nurse ants, as she tried to pick up too many of the queens eggs at once and ended up dropping them. Luckily for her, they were soft eggs and so did not break like a hen's eggs would have done. "Don't get into a fluster my dear", Honey said to Dewdrop; "when you're as old as I am, things won't seem so bad". Now Honey was not just an older and wiser ant, but she had been a nurse for as long as she could remember; why, even Queen Petal asked Honey for advice on how to bring up baby ants.
"I hear that our scouts have found a really lovely place for us to live in just across the meadow", Dewdrop asked, "with lots and lots of pretty flowers?" "So Cowslip tells me", Honey said, "and she should know, as it was her who found the spot; and you know how Cowslip loves flowers". Just then, in rushed a soldier ant from the palace guard, "Hey, come along you two slow coaches, we're moving out right away", she said; as even the soldiers were all girls in the ant nest. Honey and Dewdrop busily picked up the baby ants and hurriedly followed the guard out into the meadow.
"I wish these babies would stop crying for food all the time", grumbled Dewdrop. "Oh you was just as bad when you were a baby", replied Honey,"yelled in the nursery for hours on end; just like a kitten meowing for milk". Dewdrop remembered that Honey had been her nurse when Dewdrop had been a little baby ant. "We'll soon be there now, so stop your moaning and whining and come along my dear". Dewdrop knew she'd feel better once they reached the new nest; at least she'd be able to put these screaming babies down and give them a feed. Hopefully after some food, they'd shut up and have a nap.
"STOP", yelled Honey, who had almost fallen over a red ant which was sitting in the middle of the path. "And just where do you meadow ants think you're going to in such a rush"?asked the red ant. "Not that it's any business of yours", replied Dewdrop,"but we're moving home". "Well", the red ant said snootily,"just make sure you keep away from our nest over by the big stone wall, or there'll be trouble". Honey decided to inform Queen Petal about this meeting with the red ant as soon as she reached the new nest. Why was it, she pondered, that red ants were always so horrid and looking for a fight. True, they did have a sting in their tails; but why were they not peaceful like she was? "Rotten old bullies", Honey thought aloud. "I heard that remark", said the red ant as she disappeared into the long grass; "if you're not careful I'll come back with some of my sisters and we'll give you a good thrashing." "Thank goodness she's gone", said Dewdrop,"I don't think that red ant liked us very much?" "You're not kidding", Honey answered.
As soon as the meadow ants were settled into their new home, Honey told Queen Petal about the red ants threat. All the meadow ants were happy in their new nest home; but just in case, extra guards were placed on duty to keep watch for any unfriendly red ants that may be wandering around the place.
"You just never know with those red ants", said Honey,"they do so love to cause trouble; but that's another story" !!!
Honey's Battle Plan.
It wasn't long before meadow ant soldiers, who had been out on patrol, reported that the red ants over by the old stone wall were gathering an army to attack the meadow ants nest. "Well, just let them try", said Queen Petal,"my soldiers will beat those red ants any day". "Don't be too sure", replied Honey,"we haven't got as many fighters as they have, and red ants are better at fighting than we meadow ants". "We must make a good plan to defend our nest then", Petal said. "I have an idea, leave it to me", said Honey.
Rushing down to the nursery,Honey gathered all the nurse ants around her. "Listen girls,we need to go outside of the nest and stamp our feet hard". "Stamp our feet", asked Dewdrop "why do we have to do that"? "Oh, don't go asking silly questions" retorted Honey,"we just need to, that's all". So all the nurses stood on top of the ant hill, stamping their feet as hard as they could. Meanwhile, over at the red ants nest, red ant soldiers were lining up in ranks ready to attack the meadow ants; saying things like,"just wait until those meadow ants see us, they'll soon run away"; and "we'll beat 'em up and send them packing"! But, just then, the red ants heard the sound of hundreds of feet over on the meadow ants hill. "Ere, hang on a minute", said the head red ant soldier,"we wasn't told they had a big army". "No we wasn't",said a second red ant,"maybe we'd best not attack today then"! "Good thinking" replied the first ant,"let's all go and have some nettle beer instead". So the red ants did just that.
"The red ants have all gone home", said a scout ant to Honey,"they're not attacking after all". "Looks like my plan has worked girls", Honey said to the nurse ants. "Why didn't I think of a good plan like that", said Dewdrop. "With age comes wisdom my dear", Honey replied,"better than all that silly fighting any day, eh ! Where would our soldiers be without us nurses to look after them"? "In a right pickle I'd say", Dewdrop said giving Honey a broad grin,"in a right old pickle and that's for sure".
Honey's Big Problem.
All was well in the anthill, the sun was shining, birds were singing, yes; it was a lovely peaceful day. Honey and Dewdrop had been given a day off from looking after the baby ants, so they went to the top of the anthill to do a spot of sunbathing. "Isn't it nice to have some time off",said Honey. "Sure is", replied Dewdrop,"it's not often we nurses get out in the fresh air". Just then, the ground shook and the ants became alarmed. "Help, it's an earthquake", yelled Dewdrop. "Nonsense my dear; probably just a passing cow from the farm"? said Honey. Just then, a large pink worm looking thingy poked its way into the anthill. As if that wasn't bad enough, it had 4 of its mates with it. The poor little ants were flung into a panic.
The little girl, who was out for a walk with her mother, giggled with glee to see the ants running around in circles trying to escape her fingers. "Let's attack and bite these wormy things", cried Dewdrop. Honey strained her eyes to see what was happening. Shame ants cannot see very far, Honey thought. "Wait a mo',Honey shouted, there's a Human Bean on the end of them worms". Honey knew what humans looked like,as she'd seen the farmer from time to time. "I've got a better idea; let's run up the worms and tickle the human bean". So Honey, Dewdrop and several other ants did just that.
The little girl was now the one in a panic. "Mummy, mummy", she cried loudly, as the ants tickled so badly. "Well, you silly girl; fancy upsetting those poor little ants. They wasn't harming you; but your poking around has certainly upset them. Come away and leave them alone", her mummy said brushing ants off her daughter. "Wow", said Dewdrop,"your plans always work so well Honey". "Let's face it", replied Honey,"we meadow ants do like life to be peaceful and quiet, so biting a human bean just ain't our way ! Now, let's get back to our sunbathing me dear-i-oh"!! So Dewdrop and Honey did just that.
Wood Ant Tea Party
One fine day down in the pine forest, as the summer sun shone lazily down upon the large mound of pine needles that was the home of 3 lovely wood ant queens; Queen Ash, and her two daughters Queen Beech and Queen Oak, a worker ant returned home form her foraging to report that she had found hundreds of nice juicy caterpillars in a nearby Sycamore tree. "I think we should send out a lot of our daughters to bring back as many as they can," Queen Beech said to her sister and mother. "I agree" Queen Ash replied to her eldest daughter, and the orders went out to all ants in the ant hill nest that by royal decree, an ant tea party was to be held later that day.
There was a great deal of hustle and bustle as hundreds of wood ant worker poured out of the ant hill, and the scraping of their tiny feet could be heard rustling across the forest floor. They reached the tall Sycamore tree and began climbing high into its branches. On reaching the uppermost branches, the ants were amazed to see so many caterpillars in one place, and were spoilt for choice as to where to begin collecting them from first. One of the older workers suggested that they only take the biggest, fattest ones; so this was exactly what the ants did. Dozens of big, fat juicy caterpillars were gathered by the worker ants, who carried them in their jaws down the tree trunk back to the forest floor. "Line up in a single file, and then just follow the scent trail which will lead you back home" said the oldest ant, as she was more experienced than most of her younger sisters and cousins. "Right, every ant pick a partner to help you. Then one ant take the head while the other takes the tail. Okay girls, let's march for home" the eldest ant yelled so that the entire column of ants could hear her.
Back inside the nest, some of the younger who had stayed behind had been milking the aphid herd, or ant cows as they liked to call them, and were busy pouring the sweet honeydew nectar into acorn cups. When the marching column of ants returned with their booty of caterpillars, the ant colony had a feast, with more than enough food for all the larvae and adult ants. They would remember this banquet for a long time to come, as all 3 of their queens made speeches in praise of the worker ant who had found this glut of food in the first place. "This is the best tea party we've had since I first founded this nest" remarked Queen Ash. "Yes, these caterpillar steaks are really scrumptious and the best I've ever tasted" replied Queen Beech. Queen Oak just grinned at her older sister, as she had a mouthful of food at the time; and we all know it rude to speak with your mouth full of food, isn't it? "Well you girls will be able to lay more eggs now that you've had such a good meal" Queen Ash said to her daughters Beech and Oak. "Our worker ants certainly have done well today, and it has been such a lovely meal."
As the sun slowly set in the West, across the small pond in the forest clearing, all the wood ants felt very happy to have givens their queens such a great tea party which they would talk about for years to come; and they went about the ant hill cleaning up all the mess left from the party. What a super day they'd had, of that much every ant inside the nest did agree upon.
Ant City is destroyed.
The sun shone down on the heath where there lived a large colony of erratic ants called Tapping Ants; because they ran up and down all the time, tapping the ground with their feelers and behaving in a most erratic manner indeed. These fast little black ants had built themselves a lovely big Ant City, with lots of tunnels and chambers. The chambers were used for all sorts of things, from keeping the baby ants in during their period of growing up to become worker ants, to large stocks of food of all kinds. The queen ant lived in the darkest, deepest chamber where it was lovely and cool in summer; and nice and warm in the winter. It really was a great place for peaceful little ants to live. The Tapping Ants were left alone by their neighbours, the Red Stinging Ants, and they in turn did not bother with them. Yes, it really was a happy time for all.
The workmen arrived on the heath, with orders to dig a large hole in which to place a large sign, which read, " Please do not feed the horses "; as the ponies from the local riding school were allowed to graze upon the open heathland. So the men began to swing their pick-axes and spades, as they dug into the ground.
Ant City did not know what had hit it, until the first blow from a sharp spade split the place wide open. The ground shook violently from the blow, as the food larder was ripped from the ground and flung high into the air. Hundreds of poor little worker ants scurried this way and that way, wondering what on earth could have been happening. Nurse ants rushed to pick up the babies as fast as their tiny legs could carry them, as all were terrified of this frightening invasion of their lovely, peaceful home.
" Hang on a minute " shouted one of the men, " we are upsetting an ants nest here boys; best if one of us tries to dig it all out and move it to safety." So, very carefully, the man who had felt sorry for the little ants moved the whole nest, queen and all to another place across the heath.
The queen and all the worker ants were in complete chaos and disarray, and very, very sad about the loss of their home; the lovely Ant City. They gathered together and checked to make sure no ants or babies had been lost. A few late stragglers came wandering over from the destroyed larder carrying food; but amazingly, not one single ant had been killed or injured. At least the Tapping Ants were lucky on that score.
Forming an organized line of ants, they all set off to search for a new place to build a home. It was awful that Ant City had been destroyed; but within a short time the scouts had found a nice piece of soft soil, so with every ant pulling together to help out, they soon began digging out a new nest. Ant City would rise again, and this time it was well away from where men dig, or horses trample. Within a very short time, the queen and all the babies were safe and sound in the beginnings of their new home, thank goodness !!