Friday, December 2, 2011

The Ants Go Marching One By One.

The ants go marching one by one.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching one by one.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching one by one;
The little one stops to suck his thumb,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The song should really go "down into the ground piece by tiny piece with all my garden.  Grrr, grrr, grrr, grrr!"

mage courtesy of SweetCrisis /

All the gardening advice I have for the US says that, besides the fact that ants sometimes cultivate aphids, they are harmless. Harmless!! They have obviously never encountered the leafcutter ant, because they are NOT harmless.  They have moved in and built a MASSIVE labyrinth of tunnels under my garden.  I am not exaggerating, there must be a million or more.  

"Leafcutter ants cut leaves from plants and trees and grow fungus on these cut fragments. The ants use this fungus to feed their larvae (the ants themselves mostly imbibe plant sap from the cut leaf fragments). ...
Leaf cutter ants are limited to the arid, semi-tropical and tropical regions of South, Central, and North America, but they are one of the ecologically-dominant ants everywhere they are found. They are arguably the most well-known of the ants to the local people and foreign tourists in these regions, mainly because of their spectacular habit of carrying colored petals or green leaves in foraging lines that may stretch more than 250 meters from their nest! 
Leaf cutter ants have one of the most sophisticated animal societies in the world. This is because of their unusual method of farming (they are the only animal besides humans who grow their own food from living matter), their extremely large colony sizes (up to 8 million individuals per colony in one species, Atta sexdens), and their fantastic caste system (with ants of different sizes and forms specialized for various tasks in the colony)." The Guide to Leafcutter Ants.
This is a formidable enemy! *sigh*  
Doesn't the mere sight of this cause you to shudder, bring cold sweats, toss and turn at night?

I have tried every trick I know, every trick I could google, and even resorted to spraying commercial bug sprays into their ant hills that are a "reasonable" distance from my organic garden.  All while the leafcutter ants march on, singing there happy song, waving their thanks that I am growing such wonderful plants for them in this very dry year, and rolling on the ground laughing at all my efforts to evict them.  I have gardened in three countries, four states in the US and two states in Mexico.  I have battled, aphids, slugs, powdery mildew, drought and I have been triumphant.  I am not a novice! 

My garden is my refuge, it's where I go when I am discouraged, unfocused, tired, bewildered.  It's where I laugh and cry and pray.  It's the one of the constants in my life.  It is where, to my great enjoyment, I have produced hundreds if not thousands of pounds of wholesome food for my family.  It is my deep sigh.
Happily marching along! Hurrah!  Hurrah!

Quite fascinating really!

Sawing down the carrots!  They love their greens!

So, here's some points to remember.  All my/our efforts have not be for not, we've shared but they haven't even gotten the grand majority.  This is actually my bonus garden.  We didn't get here until the 3rd week of August and I didn't plan to garden until the spring, but hubby knows how much joy it brings me, so he and a man from our home church prepared the spot.  And finally, I've still got a little fight left and a few more tricks up my sleeve, so watch out.  For right now, the kids and I go out and spray them off the plants with water, stomp out every ant we can find and generally try to disrupt their happy march several times a day.  It's not 100% and it's a good bit of effort, but it is keeping most of the garden from disappearing under the ground. :)

One for the blackbird.
One for the mouse.
One for the rabbit.
And one for the house.

I always thought that philosophy was for other suckers.  Look who's the sucker now.  LOL! :) 


  1. Great post! Those mighty ants are ridiculously large much like the attacks of the enemy. So keep hoeing and pruning. Fruit will come. The harvest is on its way. It might be smaller than intending... but fruit will come.

  2. Hello my wonderful, ant-stressed friend. I just read your comment on my blog from September. Sorry, I guess I don't blog on a regular base. I would love to come and help you. It is not forgotten... our trip to Mexico, just put on a back burner.
    My mom and I had to fly to Germany because my aunt died. Not a good situation, and it was an expensive trip, not in the budget. Jason is retiring next year, and we will move back to MO, buy a house with some land.
    So,,,, don't give up on me. But keep us in prayer. Love you lots!!!!


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