I have a Dancing Ladies orchid in my back room. Every time it flowers tiny ants crawl up and down the stems and collect the nectar. It’s sweet like honey. When the flowers die, I cut the stems and the ants disappear. It had crossed my mind that there is a small nest in the bottom of the pot, but I hadn’t thought much about it until yesterday. Once a week I water my Dancing Ladies and leave the pot on the bathroom sink to drain. But yesterday, when I picked it up, about twenty tiny black ants scattered in all directions. Being a believer in ‘everything has a right to live unless it is a direct threat to me’, I didn’t scream and squish them as most ‘normal’ people would do, but left them there to wander the white plains of my bench top while I returned the pot to its usual spot.
That night when I came back and turned on the light, I saw a black spot the size of a one cent coin. The ants were still there but now they were huddled together like a bunch of scared lost children. Two scouts were searching for the nest which they would never find, for they would have to traverse miles and miles (from an ant’s pov) of mountains and gorges and smooth white deserts and rough bobbly terrain. One scout had already sacrificed its life. What’s more, these lands are patrolled by a hairy four-legged beast who is always hungry except for when it’s sleeping.
But the most terrifying creature of all is the winged thing with the lizard legs and swivelling beady eyes and sharp hooked mouth whose cries make tiny ant knees tremble.
So with soft murmurings, I coaxed the lost children into a glass and carried them safely home.