The Viola massacre of May 15th
The tiny black ants are living happily in the strawberry bed. This bed is much nicer than the ones surrounding it. It has a nice loose soil, and it is covered with leaves and bark chippings. The strawberries are in full bloom and inbetween violas are growing. The ants have plenty of shade, and when the bees accidentily drop their packages, the ants have a nice and easy meal to find!
The bed across the path also has plenty of nice food. This is where the broad beans are growing. And as they like it best, it is covered in blackfly aphids. The ants are working their hardest to keep them happy so they can harvest the honeydew the aphids produce. The sweet sticky stuff is a favorite food for ants, who also take it back to feed larvae.
The weather is becoming better and better every day. At night it’s still cold, but it’s not freezing anymore. Today has been a particulary dry day, such as yesterday and the day before. That night there was still a little frost. But it didn’t harm the ants. It will probably rain soon again.
When the ants are busy carying the honeydew in and the sand stones out they notice the earth is shaking up. It seems like some of these giants is coming. This happens a lot but there is usually no reason to alarm. Their bed is next to a couple of busy paths. But this time there is an extra heavy thump. Some of the ants see a large shadow coming down, something is being put down on them!
The ants run for cover and try to protect their nest by quickly cleaning up the fallen sand stones which came loose after the big thump. They run and carry and run and carry some more. Suddenly a large piece of their main tunnel collapses. What is happening?! Their path to the next tunnel also gets blocked. Luckily they have plenty of them around, even though some are just for air circulation.
A couple of ants have hid themselves under one of the violas. But then it is gone and the earth around them collapses and gets shifted around. Now they finally understand. That big giant is pulling at the violas! Some of the ants start to panick, their queen is at risk of being collapsed and without her, they have no purpose anymore. They quickly get into action and start moving the queen and her offspring to a save spot. They keep moving them around until everything seems calm again. Luckily she made it.
Just when the ants think it’s okay again to go back and rebuild their nest, a new thump appears. And another. And another. These are tiny thumps, which do make things shake but not as ridiculous as before. A couple of ants get curious and come outside of the nest to check things out. Whoa! There’s another thump. And right when the ant wanted to move there is a bark chipping in front of it. That wasn’t there before. And another. And another. The big giant is throwing them all around them!
Finally the big giant leaves and the ants can rebuild their nest and harvest their honeydew again. A lot of them were lost in the collapsed tunnels. And some of them got squashed underneath the bark. The remaining ants carry them away from the nest and continue their own gardening.