Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ants, food and the seasons

Are the food needs seasonal? I asked. 
Yes, to a certain extent, said the pest advisor at Kiwicare. In summer the colony needs more carbohydrate so the workers can fuel their busy lives. But Argentine ants (which mine could be) like protein when they first move in to new territory, then change to carbohydrate once they've settled. I guess somewhere behind the wall they must have settled in pretty thoroughly, because they they are turning their little black noses up at my protein baits.

The cravings of queen ants

Why do the ants ignore the baits I so carefully laid for them? Helpful staff at KiwiCare explain that it all depends on what the queen requires. Like a pregnant woman, her cravings change. And so she instructs the workers to bring her protein, fat or carbohydrate. 

I've been laying a protein bait it seems, and the queen is not amused! And so I'm told to try the liquid sweet bait which is high carbohydrate.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The determination of ants

I learned something more about ants today. I knew that from late autumn they start their trails inside, bringing eggs and all they need to nest for the winter. At my bach a few weeks ago, I found a million ants in the loft, a carpet of black shiny bodies and couldn't believe how determined they were to stay there.

Today I talked to a man fixing the electronic box that controls the gate at my apartment building. He'd found why the gate had stopped working: ants! There they were, in hundreds and thousands, running up the pipes into the box, having decided this would be a perfect nest for the winter. 'I've just cleared out two other boxes today,' he said, brushing into the wire-filled space with a wide soft paint brush. We discussed how they could be deterred. 'Can't put poison in there, or spray, because damp kills the electronics,' he said. 'The only thing is cloves.' 'Cloves???' Yes, they will work for about a year. Because they are dry, they are fine to use, and the ants won't nest there any more.' Only problem is, he's used up the last box of cloves that he carries with him, and if we don't find some before he closes up the box, that's it. So we are hoping that when the gourmet cook in the front apartment comes home, he will be able to provide the cloves.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Attended kumara dig on Auckland's west coast. Children, parents, grandparents, friends of the grower all listened to instructions then swooped on the sandy patch to unearth the crop with bare hands. Prizes were given for smallest, largest, ugliest, most beautiful etc. In the old days, Maori watched out for one that most resembled the goddess Pani. I found one that was a good contender.
Marvellous to do this in community, then share lunch together under the trees.

The call of winter

Rain, wind, wintry weather at last. The earth sighs and soaks up the long-awaited moisture. Time to turn within and begin the inner descent, coming home to self, and attending to what has been put aside through the active summer months. I'm finding good books and DVDs at the library. Am sorting shelves and files. Thinking about how to stop up drafts, and replace the bach roof.
Talking today with someone about the difference between being quiescent and being inert. A fallow field is quiescent (what a delicious word) because it is filled with micro-organisms, working away, restoring soil structure and putting back nutrients. This is what winter signifies for me: delicious quiescence, and the gestating of a new project, but without hurry or expectation of results. It's the patient season.