*carpenter ant writing from Holly Point Farm in Belle Haven, Virginia
are you trying to get me killed question mark
boss, our deal was i will undertake certain surveillance and reporting assignments and you will refrain from chemical warfare on the estate. you asked me to get rid of the wasps. this is lethally dangerous. wasps eat ants for breakfast. the only way i could emerge as a whole carpenter ant, without being eaten by my relatives, was to assume a diplomatic guise and make contact in the cool of the evening during cocktails.
i set out for the white-faced paper wasp nest aka polistes comanchus.
sez i, ‘evening your white-faced regalness. may i have a word question mark‘
‘miniscule mite, i am a busy wasp with no time to banter with bugs‘, she retorts, mandibles clicking.
sez i, ‘your highness, i bear missives from homo sapiens management - owner of said porch roof wherein you repose and reproduce. he wishes that you pack up your hive and hightail it.’
‘pernicious pest‘, sez her white-assed queenness, ‘we are a proud species with 100 million years of white-faced wasp supremacy in our blood. we build where we damn well please. don’t need no stinking homos. avast, irksome bug exclamation point’
she flexes her big white abdomen, stinger pumping in and out.
‘begging your indulgence, excellency‘, sez I, ‘but management has classified you as an immigrant terrorist species here-abouts and declares that if you don’t book a vespid vamoose he will unleash ‘fire and fury and chemical death like the world has never seen‘. homo management is a proud god who nukes what he does not love.’
‘scram you black-faced bastard before i separate your head from your thorax,’ she screeches.
next, i visited a dainty thread-waisted mud dauber, aka sceliphron caementarium, with yellow hose and stilettos, high-stepping in the mud of a hurricane puddle.
‘what-ho miss twiggy, what’s with the high-rise hooves question mark’
‘fashion, you little black trash‘, she sez, with a sizzling sneer. ‘our class of wasp is the proud owner of the shiny-ass-skinny-waist-yellow-decoration gene. i do not muddy myself with common slime.’
‘tarted-up sextapod‘, i complain, ‘management god wants you to cease and desist with the spider-stuffed mud-huts in his boats and weather station.’
‘little incubus, you may tell management god that the beautiful submit to no higher power. we are pretty-proud. scram exclamation point‘, she yells, skinny legs wobbling as stilettos sink into the mud.
not dead yet, i scampered off to the water melon sized abode of the immigrant european hornets aka vespa crabro.
‘helloooooo in there, anyone home question mark i would speak with your queen.’
‘who trespasses on this sacred monument question mark. croaked a gravelly-voiced shredded-winged and worn-out specimen of vespa crabro as she creaked around the side of the honorific hornet house.
‘begging your pardon your dignity. i come in peace to see what it would take to get your tribe to decamp‘, sez i.
‘we are dead, you stupid ant’ huffed her haughtiness. ‘you are standing on the mausoleum of the bravest. the monument to our fallen heroes at our proudest hour [cough]. the day we raided yonder bee hive, killed everyone and stole the honey [cough]. it was a day of glorious gory genocide. it was a day when the weaker meeker immigrant bees were extirpated. [cough] their larvae felt the bite of our merciless mandibles [cough]. their decapitated bodies laid in heaps in front of their ugly painted wooden slum. the superior species conquered all [cough,cough].’
not a little annoyed by the fathomless arrogance of this speech, i responded, ‘yet i observe, your haughtiness, that there is no one left drinking cocktails on the porch of said sacred sarcophagus.’
‘ant-imp‘, she retorted, becoming breathless, coughing, abdomen pulsing, ‘we rose to such exalted heights of greatness that the jealous gods took their revenge and gaaaaaaaaaaasssed us [wracking cough].’
boss, i can see you now, standing there in your bee bonnet unleashing an angry stream of ‘raid’ into the dark hole of this hornet’s nest. they paid for their savagery and this old termagant will tumble to the ground and rot in her hubris. so i let it slide that she, too, was an immigrant - her clan having debarked in new york no sooner than 1850.
i have endured insults, threats and savage mockery even as i comported myself as a civilized emissary. you have an attitude problem in the neighborhood. these wasps trespass upon your patience and physical infrastructure with a genetic conceit. pride is the tragic flaw of the wasp family.
but be merciful. i advise against all-out war, boss. don’t let your superior armaments lead you down the slippery slope to neighborhood bullyness. it will corrode your self-esteem and i will have to quit. as my great great great great ant once said, ‘deplorable wasps ye shall always have among ye.’
i suggest a solution that will benefit both of us. act like a sensitive homo management god and judiciously apply some tactical ‘raid’ to the offending vespinae domiciles. in exchange, we will not eat your house.
factually reported and respectfully submitted as per agreement by
official holly point farm investigative reporter
*Cindi is the latest in a long line of literate carpenter ants that have learned to use computers and who aspire to once again rule Planet Earth after Homo sapiens is gone. She, however, cannot use the shift key.
Dr.Tony Picardi’s professional career includes thirty-two years in the software, consulting and market research industries. He retired in 2007 to the Eastern Shore of Virginia where he now creates wildlife habitats on his farm and volunteers as an Eastern Shore of Virginia Master Naturalist and as the scholarship chair and speaker at the Academy for Lifetime Learning. He leads birding, butterfly and mushroom tours on his farm and is a tour leader and speaker at the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. He lectures on global warming, meadow habitats, butterflies and moths, mushrooms and linkages between nature and environmental services. In 2015 he published Mushrooms of Virginia’s Eastern Shore: A Photographic Tour. He bikes around the county and fishes and rows on Occohannock Creek.