Las Hormigas : Consequences

The landscaping company that takes care of the park nearby was out spraying everything yesterday.  I worry about the poisons so casually flung about – particularly as my dog could get into it.  I asked them what they were spraying for, and could not understand their answer in Spanish.  I remembered the sounds of the vowels I heard, “or -ee -ah” and looked up the word “ant” in Spanish.  Hormiga.

We have lots of ants here.  Millions of ants.  Thousands of colonies.  Their numbers are so dense that when something good is in the garbage, they will build a highway worthy of the 405 to remove the food scraps and carry it home.

When it is about to rain, the ants move to higher ground, into the apartments.  For us, that had the positive result of holding us to a higher standard of cleanliness.   No dish lay in the sink.  Dog food could not be left out for long.  But apparently there were complaints.  The spraying began.

We recently watched the David Attenborough series about insects called “Life in the Undergrowth,” from which we learned that insects are as messed up as we are, and more similar to us than is really comfortable.  So my sympathies were for the ants when I saw the poison massacre yesterday.  It’s so easy to disregard others when they do not look like you.  The wholesale murder was on the scale of genocide.  The ants were doing a job, that’s all. They scavenge for the food scraps too tiny for other animals to bother with.  Making a living.

When you consider that the war on nature is carried out also on animals that we consider “good” for arbitrary aesthetic reasons; monarch butterfly populations dropping by a staggering 90%, honeybees getting wiped out by toxic chemicals pumped out by Bayer, I start thinking it might be a good thing if we experience the 6th extinction.  And soon.  We don’t deserve to live here if all we can do is crush and kill and poison.

I hope that when people finally wake up to the immediacy of the situation, it will not be too late for all living things on this thin-crusted, gaseous, shifty planet.

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