Monday, July 11, 2016

Life as I Knew It

Driver Ants- Part 2

I shared my last blog post with fellow MK's (missionary kids, now adults). Their responses were varied and quite interesting. In today's blog I had planned to tell of other animals encounters but will save those stories for another time. Instead, today, I will share my MK friends' comments about their memories of driver ants.

CP: "I, too, used to play with driver ants! It was certainly risky business!! I would even pick them up right behind their heads, hold them up and listen for the hiss, then drop them down into the line of their ant-friends and watch the line go crazy and swarm all over the place! Then, they would calm down again and re-form their orderly line. I, too, heard the baby-eating stories. And my brother's crib stood in saucers, but I think they were filled with water."

RS: "I have heard the house story except in the version I heard the family moved out until the ants left."

JDM: "I think there should be a distinction between driver ants' 'marching' and 'driving'.  When they are moving neatly in a single, massive line, as you have described, they are "marching;" that is, they are simply getting from one place to the next. When they are 'driving' (i.e., looking for prey/food), they are not in a neat line, but are scattered over a large area by the millions, it seems. In that case, they would cover a large area of our back yard, for example, at the same time. In the story you gave about the residents of the house stepping over the ants, the ants would have been 'marching'.  If 'driving', it would not have been possible to step anywhere without being in ants and the ants would have cleaned the place out, so to speak."

PG: "I believe it was either Thomas Bowen or William Clark (both early Baptist missionaries to Nigeria) who wrote of the driver ants and said that they were actually welcomed when they swept through a house, because they would, as JDM said, clean out a house of roaches, mice, etc.
Driver ants have a distinctive smell, and if you have once learned that smell, you will instantly recognize it when you smell it again, even after an absence of many years."
 

LJ: "The ant story is credible. But, the children weren't eaten, they died from all the bites/stings. My sister sat on a mound once...bad news!"

AL: "Daddy was about to preach at a little church in the bush. He was standing outside to get some fresh air before going into the stifling building. Someone yelled and pointed that he was standing in a bed of those driver ants. In an instant they had striped his clothes off and were throwing water on him to remove the ants. The same happened to my brother when he was about 3. A Nigerian friend just dunked him into a big cold pot of water. I remember my brother screaming like crazy! Both had some bad bites! "

GL: "Here's a real life story. We were staying at Frances Jones awaiting the birth of my 2nd brother in Jan 1950. Another brother & I were walking to a neighbor's house on our own.  He stepped in driver ants & started howling-and the neighbor girls came running out, sized up the situation, pulled off his clothes & de-anted him. Very clear memory! We called all black ants traveling in formation 'drivers' in my memory."

JG: "Brought back many memories. I always blamed my 'poor sleepers'on that baby story. No way was I ever going to let a baby cry itself to sleep because our version of the story included the grim surprise of the parents waking to a baby bed of bones!"