Ant Tales Two
Honey's Big Surprise
Chapter 1 - Teatime goes wrong
As many of you know, Honey is a black meadow ant who lives in a small ant hill with her sisters. The day started out like most other days, when Honey had collected the new eggs laid by Queen Petal, the queen of the black meadow ants. Honey laid out the eggs in neat little piles and licked them clean, then she polished them until they were shiny and bright. Just as she was stacking the last egg, in came her best friend Dewdrop. "What's for tea?" asked Dewdrop, "As I'm so hungry I could eat a whole caterpillar all to myself." "Always thinking of your stomach" replied Honey. "Well, the farmer ants have brought in some fresh greenfly milk, and I've made some beetle stew with oak apple pie for afters. We also have some Lacewing eggs and dandelion beer, so we can have a real feast" Honey told Dewdrop. Just then Marigold popped her head around the egg chamber entrance. "Can I come too?" she asked; "And may I bring Poppy and a few others, as we could make a party out of it." "Oh alright then deary. I suppose it will save me carrying the leftovers up to the workers if they all come down here for it" Honey said.
The feast was a huge success, and ants from all over the nest came to sample the delights of the meal. The sweet greenfly milk flowed like; well like milk does flow I suppose, and the meal was enjoyed by all the ants. "Wasp stings and Bee bites" Dewdrop suddenly cried, "We've not left a scrap of food for Queen Petal. She most definitely will not be amused, as she hasn't had a bite since breakfast; and it's late afternoon now." A look of shock and horror came over the hundreds of worker ants, as they realized they'd been having such a good time they had scoffed all the food and drink. If their queen didn't get anything to eat soon she wouldn't be able to lay anymore eggs, and that would spell disaster for the entire nest. "We must go out soon and find a meal fit for a queen" Honey said to Marigold and Poppy. "Get some of the girls to help out, and we'll go off in search of something nice right away." It didn't take long before long lines of little black ants were foraging along the trails, going in all directions away from the nest as they scurried across the meadow in search of a meal fit for a royal like Queen Petal.
Chapter 2 - Honey looks for food
Honey found herself alone at the end of a long path which she had never explored before. The rest of the meadow ants had gone either toward the woods, or to the stone walls around the meadow; but Honey had followed a path leading under the bramble patch down by the small pond, and found herself by a babbling brook which fed water into the pond. Several large stones had fallen from one of the walls, and these now lay flat upon the ground with tufts of grass growing up around them. A young wasp was sitting on a gorse flower, and she gave Honey a rather horty and indignant gaze. "I wouldn't go that way" the wasp said, "As those stones are the home of a large nest of red ants, and they don't take kindly to strangers in their territory." "But I must find a nice meal fit to give to my queen" replied Honey, "So can you help me?" "Not really my scene helping out little ants" the wasp stated; "But if you want my advice, and it won't cost you anything, then you should try the other end of the meadow, as it is where the farmer has his cows and there are lots of lovely blowflies on the fresh cow pats." "I want to find something different, as plenty of worker ants have gone off foraging over there" Honey retorted. Just then 3 red ant workers came from below the bramble patch carrying a lovely big caterpillar, which they dropped in amazement at the sight of Honey standing in front of them.
"Clear off" yelled the largest red ant, "This is our part of the meadow and we don't like you black meadow ants foraging over here." "It's a free world" Honey replied. "Besides, I was chatting to this wasp about what great big blow flies are to be had over where the cows graze." "Really" said the largest red ant, "We haven't had any luck finding any nice big juicy flies around here for ages now. Tell you what, if you can get us some, we'll trade you this lovely caterpillar for some." "That sounds fair" said the wasp from her perch on the flower. "Yes it is very fair" Honey replied, "Where do we make this trade?" "We will bring it over to the nettle bed, and then we'll swop your flies for it" the red ant said. "And I'll make sure they don't cheat you" the wasp said to Honey. The black meadow ant workers had found plenty of flies, so Honey told Dewdrop and Marigold of her plans to exchange some flies for the large caterpillar which the red ants had. "Do you trust them?" asked Marigold, "As red ants are our enemies and do not like us at all." "Not entirely" Honey replied, "We have had problems with the warlike reds before, and they certainly have no love for us." But Honey was a very clever and cunning little ant, and she had a plan to make the red ants hand over the caterpillar which would avoid any nasty fighting with them. Honey went up the hill to the large wood on the edge of the meadow. Once there, she called on her good friend Pine Sap, queen of the wood ants.
Now the wood ants were very big ants indeed, and had large impressive nests made of pine needles which towered up to the sky. Pine Sap invited Honey for a drink of fresh birch sap wine, and listened to Honey's story about the red ants and their intended trade. "Well as you know my dear, we wood ants rarely leave the woodland floor or treetops and go into the meadow. That's your domain isn't it? But if you really want my help, then I will offer some of my major ant soldiers to escort you while you make the trade with those reds. After all, it was you who saved me from being eaten by a bird once, and I owe you a debt of gratitude my dear" Pine Sap said with a smile. Seventy of the biggest wood ants were chosen, and together with Honey they marched off back into the meadow. "Just let those red ants do anything nasty, and we'll show them a thing or two" said the leading wood ant to Honey. "Yes" replied Honey, "They won't get the better of me." What a clever little ant she was to be sure.
Chapter 3 - Fair Trade
The red ants arrived carrying the caterpillar, but instead of just 3 ants, there were a hundred. Their plan was to take the flies from the meadow ants, and still carry away the caterpillar; which they had no intentions of giving up at all. Honey stood with a small group of her sisters holding out four flies to swop. "Hand over those flies" said a surly red ant. "Once you put down that caterpillar, we will do" replied Honey. "We're keeping it, but still going to take your flies too" the red ant said, as the reds began to swarm toward the small bunch of black meadow ants.
Honey let out a shrill cry, and suddenly the army of wood ants rushed out from all sides. The red ants froze in their tracks, and cries of "Mercy" and "We give up, please don't hurt us" were yelled as the red ants may have been with other ants who were the same size as them, it was a different matter when it came to fighting much bigger ants who sprayed formic acid in your face, as it didn't half make their eyes water and stung horribly. "Just for being nasty and conniving, you've given up your rights to fair trading" the wasp told the red ants, "So now you must let Honey have that caterpillar and you lot can clear off and go home empty handed, as you don't even deserve those flies now." The poor old red ants wailed loudly, like babies who didn't get their bottle of warm milk on time and they turned back toward their nest. "Oh here" shouted Honey to the retreating red ants, "You really did bring this upon yourselves, and although you were nasty I hate to think of your babies going hungry, so take a couple of these flies home with you." The red ants couldn't thank Honey enough for showing them mercy and the error of their wicked ways. What utter idiots they'd been by trying to cheat on this food deal. "Perhaps they will think twice before being naughty another time, as it always pays to play fair in life and be kind to others" said Honey. She thanked the wood ants for their help, and also the wasp for her part in the trading deal. Then Honey, along with Dewdrop, Marigold and Poppy; and another young ant named Cowslip, carried the large caterpillar back home to give to Queen petal.
Their queen was extremely pleased with this meal, as it truly was a meal fit for a queen and had taken a great deal of cleverness from Honey to obtain. Yes, Honey was indeed such a clever little ant; and not one of her friends and family disputed that fact, as everyone was so happy with the way things had turned out; and that really made the story well worth telling to all across the meadow.
Paris in Blunderland
Firstly I make no apology for this story being loosely based on the great Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland", as his stories have always delighted me; and this story of mine is my own way of paying homage to him. The only main connection is in a small girls dream of what it would be like to be a tiny person living among the insects.
Chapter 1. The Wasp Queen
Paris was a pretty little girl aged 7 and a half, and she had a peaches and cream complexion with lovely long blond hair. Her parents had named her Paris, as she had been born exactly 9 months after their honeymoon in the French city; and although they now all lived in a small hamlet in the county of Devon in England, her mother always told Paris how much she had loved the capital city of France, and so decided to call their daughter Paris. Now Paris loved the long school summer holidays, as she had a whole 7 weeks off; and living in such a small place as Frenchbeer (yes, there really is such a place) out on the wilds of Dartmoor, as her father had been born there and that was one reason why he and mummy went to France when they married, it could be a lonely place for a little girl who had her nearest friends several miles away. The moors could be dangerous, but if you knew them well enough, they were also a beautiful place to live, full of wildlife and pretty wild flowers.
Paris had gone out for a walk before teatime, and the sun was high over the moorland baking the ground with its heat. A small stream ran through a lovely little copse of woodland, and this was a favourite spot for Paris and her parents to have a picnic, as it was just a 3 mile walk from their home. Paris lay down beneath a silver birch tree and felt the coolness of its shade, as a warm breeze wafted over her. She began to drift into a soft slumber listening to the song of a Dartford Warbler nearby. She knew nearly all the birds by their songs, as her dad was a national park ranger who worked all over Dartmoor National Park, so he often took her along and showed her many rare birds and plants, teaching her the ways of conservation for all creatures great and small.
Paris had been lying in the shady nook for what only seemed like a few minutes, when suddenly she heard a high pitched scream followed by a voice crying "Oh what am I to do, my home is in tatters and my children all gone." She looked around, rubbing her eyes in wonder, when she saw that she was now only the size of an acorn as blades of grass towered above her. How this could have happened was a complete mystery to a girl of 7, but what was even more strange was that the voice belonged to a queen wasp, who flew around in a very agitated manner. "Pardon me" said Paris, "But was that you screaming a moment ago?" "Of course it was" replied the wasp, "My home is all destroyed and my young grublings have all gone" she sobbed loudly. "Can you help me find them little whatever you are?" asked the queen wasp. "I'm a girl" retorted Paris sharply, "And I will gladly help you if it means you'll stop crying so. Where do you think your children have gone to?" "We must go into the hole in this tree" said the queen, "As I fear my grublings have been grubnapped and taken to Blunderland."
"Blunderland" Paris asked, looking rather bemused. "Yes" replied the queen, "The place ruled over by the wicked black ant queen Formis, who takes young baby insects to be her slaves. But we have a long way to travel before we reach her city, as Blunderland is big and holds many adventures for us both. Come along my dear, let us be off" the queen wasp said as she pulled Paris through the hole in the trunk of the tree. Inside was dark at first, but then it began to get lighter as though someone had turned on the street lights, and then it was as if the sun was shining deep down inside the tree itself. A long pathway led through a forest of mushrooms, which Paris and the wasp moved along for ages before finally coming to a crossroads.
Chapter 2 - Land of the Chompers
Sitting on top of a mushroom, by the left hand fork of a crossroads, was a large shiny green beetle who was carefully combing his antennae with his front left foot. The beetle gave Paris a big grin and asked, "Who might you be and what do you want?" Paris thought for a moment, and wondered if all the creatures inside this weird place called Blunderland could talk. Then she answered the beetle saying, "I'm called Paris and I am here to help this poor wasp who has lost all her children." The wasp said nothing, but sobbed quietly to herself. "We want to know how to find them and which way we should go?" Paris told the beetle. "Well" replied the beetle, "The safest way would be to go either to the right, or is it perhaps the left; I'm not sure which it is? But the quickest way is straight on and down through the valley of the Chompers." "The Chompers?" enquired Paris, looking very perplexed at the beetles answer. "Yes, and when you get there, ask old Pinky which way to go; and if he's in a very good mood, he will tell you exactly where to go" the beetle chuckled and the grin on his face grew so wide, it stuck and he just stood there grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat from a story her dad had read to her at bedtime once. Come to think of it Paris thought, she felt just like the little girl from the story, except that she hadn't drunk any magic potions and had no idea how she had shrunk and found herself in this very odd place. No matter she thought, so Paris and the wasp continued their journey along the path that ran straight ahead; the path that would take them directly to the valley of the Chompers.
Rounding a bend in the road, Paris suddenly spotted a huge pink butterfly floating above a field of lovely green grass. "Hello, you must be Pinky" she asked? "Who want to know?" was the terse reply from the butterfly. "I was told by a beetle to ask for Pinky" said Paris. "That would be my old friend May Fly I expect, the green beetle who sits on top of a mushroom." "That's him, but why is he called May Fly?" Paris asked. "Because my dear the poor old thing has stunted wings, so he has to walk everywhere, but he thinks that one day he may fly. Honestly, what a silly question to ask" replied the butterfly sternly. "This poor wasp and I are looking for her lost children" Paris told Pinky as the wasp queen once more burst into a flood of tears. "Stop that blubbering at once" Pinky told her, "You had both better just follow me along this stretch of road, as the Chompers can get very angry with strangers." Paris wondered what exactly was a Chomper, but then her eyes caught sight of some very large red caterpillars which were chomping on blades of grass further down the valley. "Are they Chompers?" she enquired. "They most certainly are, and they are all my children; and like me, they hate strangers wandering down into our beautiful green valley." It was only now that Paris realized that Pinky the butterfly had a strong Welsh accent, and he then burst into a rousing chorus, singing 'Oh Land of my Fathers' at the top of his voice. How odd Paris thought, that a butterfly from Wales should be living inside a tree in Devon. "Not at all" said Pinky suddenly, "I came across on a strong wind and was blown here from Swansea in South Wales, and I liked it so much that I decided to stay and settle down here." Had he read her mind, or had she just thought out loud Paris wondered? "Stick to the path, as if you walk on the grass you might just get yourself chomped" Pinky warned, as they slowly made their way along through the valley of the Chompers.
Chapter 3 - Ant Mountain
The nearest of the Chompers yelled angrily, "Hey you there, get off the grass. We don't like stomping great feet treading down our nice sweet green grass, it spoils the flavour don't you know!" Even the Chompers had Welsh accents thought Paris, so they must have inherited it from their dad Pinky? "Sorry" replied Paris, "But we are looking for a quick way to the ant queen's palace, as she is holding this poor wasp queen's babies as prisoners." "PRISONERS? Food more like knowing Formis, as her own children like to eat meat all the time, and even us Chompers aren't safe from those ants when they go out hunting for food" the Chomper said with a frown. The queen wasp wailed in a loud voice and said something that sounded like "Woe is me", but Paris couldn't be certain as the sobs and tears masked the wasp's words. "Follow the path of silver sand. It will lead you to the mountain of the ants. Apart from this, we Chompers can help you no longer I'm afraid" said the huge caterpillar. "Thank you all the same, as we now know which way to go" replied Paris; and she set off with the wailing wasp and the bright pink butterfly in the direction that had been shown.
Farther along the path, they came across May Fly the green beetle. He was sitting on a log and grinning from ear to ear, or what would've been his ears if he had any that is; so perhaps it would be more correct to say that he was grinning from feeler to feeler, as paris could only see his antennae. "Hi there you lot" said the beetle. "How did you get here so fast?" Paris asked, "You were left way behind us on the path and I've been told you cannot fly." "Easy" retorted the beetle, "I took the short cut over the poppy meadow. It's must faster than going along the path which you followed." "But why didn't you tell us about it, you told us to go the other way" said Paris in a very disgruntled tone of voice, as she was very close to becoming hopping mad with anger. "Did I? Sorry about that, but you did need to speak to Pinky before entering the valley of the Chompers my dear, so I had to send you that way." "In that case I forgive you" replied Paris, "But please don't do it again!" "Oh I won't, as now you are on the right path to find the ant queen's palace" May Fly said with a huge grin. "Why do you keep grinning so much?" the wasp suddenly blurted out, which took everyone by complete surprise as she hardly spoke or said anything which was understood. "I grin because I'm a Tiger Beetle and I love to show off my lovely gnashers, so put that in your pipe and smoke it clever clogs." There's no need to be rude or nasty" Paris shouted at the beetle, "You will only upset the wasp even more, and she's already in a right old state over her lost children." "Quite right too" said Pinky who was fluttering just above their heads, "We will all need to work together if we're going to beat the ants and get her grublings back, as they are a pretty tough bunch you know Dai Bach." "Me and my big mouth. My mum alsays said it would get me into trouble, and she was always right" May Fly said still sporting a big silly grin. "Right then, let's be off and find this ant palace as quickly as we can."
The group travelled for several hours, although it seemed more like days as the path snaked along this and that, making it seem endless. Just as they rounded a bend in the road, a huge conical mound loomed up in front of them, dominating the skyline and making a very impressive sight indeed. It was Ant Mountain, and deep inside it they would find the palace of Queen Formis, ruler of Blunderland.
Paris meets the Queen
The party of travellers made their way into the ant mound by entering a small cave. Stretching off in several directions were a series of tunnels. The largest tunnel gave off a glow, and strange noises could be heard farther along it. "What's giving off this light?" asked Paris. "That will be the glow worms that the ants use to illuminate their tunnels and chambers" said May Fly the Tiger beetle. Just then a group of soldier ants came rushing out from the side tunnels. "Halt in the name of Queen Formis" yelled the nearest soldier, as she waved her pointed stinger at the group. "What are you doing here?" the ant enquired. "We have come for this poor wasps babies, which were taken by you lot" retorted Paris. "Enough. Guards take them prisoner and we will ask the queen what to do with them" the ant ordered. Queen Formis was a very impressive looking ant. She was 5 times larger than any of the other ants, with a shiny coal black armour, unlike her subjects who were just a dull slate grey in colour.
"Who are these intruders, and why are you brought them here?" the queen asked. "If it please your majesty, we arrested them for trespassing into your realm" replied the head guard ant. "Off with their heads and feed them to the royal larvae" Formis screeched. "Wait a minute, I'm a girl and no ant is going to have me for dinner" Paris cried. "Just what makes you think that we cannot eat you, as there are only 4 of you and hundreds of us" a worker ant asked as it prodded Paris with its feelers. "Because I'm a lot bigger than you" Paris replied. She suddenly found herself growing larger, and before very long her head had popped out of the top of the ant hill. "She's wrecking my palace, off with her head" screamed the queen; but all the ants were now so tiny that all they could do was bite and sting, as Pinky the butterfly helped the wasp to collect all of her babies which were found in the now exposed ant hill. "You're nothing but tiny ants" Paris laughed, brushing the ants from her hair and face.
She woke up with a start, as tiny drops of rain landed on her head. She had fallen asleep under the silver birch tree, and was still in the small wood. When she arrived home and told her mum and dad, her dad said "How odd that your dream was about ants love, as I've just bought you an ant farm for your birthday. So now you can keep those ants where you can study them, and perhaps you'll learn they are nothing to be scared of at all, as they really are quite fascinating little insects" her daddy told her with a big huge grin across his face, just like the one May Fly the Tiger beetle had in her dream Paris thought.