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Friday, October 27, 2006

Mitigating the Interference of Humans

Many people like to "rescue" insects. When funning across spiders, ladybugs, bats or butterflies in their house, many people go to the trouble of catching them and taking them out into the garden rather than the easier remedy of killing them. Doing such a thing such as that makes me feel that I'm doing a little bit to accommodate the fact that humans have eliminated the habitat of many creatures. This is a story about a mysterious thing that happened one time when I did something like that...

look closer

While driving across country by myself in the summer, I stopped to camp in Colorado in Dinosaur National Monument. Because I was driving at night and sleeping during the day, and because of the heat, I was spending nights awake and still wearing my shorts.

My campsite was a beautiful one on a ridge. I had made a fire in the camp ring to pass the time by burning the wood lying there that had been left by the campers before me. Without a moon, I couldn't see well except for the light of the fire. It was so dark that I could see the light of the fire slightly illuminating the other side of the canyon if I looked away from the light for awhile.

So it took awhile before I noticed a group of large carpenter ants who were running around on one of the logs I had put on the fire. I laughed to imagine what it would be like for these ants, because they were milling around very fast as if they had to dance to not burn their feet on the slowly warming log. To give them a way of escape, I found another stick and placed it from the log the ants were on to the edge of the fire ring, which wasn't hot. Delightfully, they figured it out at once and made a fast march toward safety.

After arriving on the ground, most of the group of perhaps ten ants set off. One ant reversed direction to come toward me. Eventually the ant ran into the road block of my bare leg. It stopped and touched my leg with its anntennae, tickling me for perhaps ten seconds. Then it turned around and trundled off in the direction of the rest of its comrades.

What I've always wondered was, was that ant saying, "Thanks!"

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