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Den's Journal

Stories by a short, fat bastard

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Mad Science
If someone were to ask be "Hey Den! Is there a creature in Australia that actually worries you?" I would say, Yes. Yes there is. It's an ant.

This ant.

Bulldog Ant

(The scale is in mm)

I found this ant in my house and I was really, really, really concerned that there was a nest nearby. I didn't find one, so I can only hope it's a stray that came in on someone's load of wood.

This is the bulldog ant. Its sting will cause anaphylactic shock in people who are susceptible. They are really aggressive and have good eyesight. The jaws are like being pinched by a pair of scissors. And the sting in the tail...

Oh boy. That sting.

It rates 4/4 on the Schmidt sting pain index which is described as "...stings induced immediate, excruciating pain and numbness to pencil-point pressure, as well as trembling in the form of a totally uncontrollable urge to shake the affected part.". By my sale it hits 10, with a ramp up to 11 with every heart beat. And it lasts for hours.

I live in Australia, where we embiggen the dangers in the bush. Crocodiles and box jellies are a bit of a worry, but I can avoid them. I'm wary of venomous snakes. I don't like spiders much.

But this ant truly frightens me.

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Bite AND sting?

Oooh man, look at the jaws on that gal! Impressive!

Gives this snack a wiiiiiiide berth.

Execute an immediate and rigorous search of your property! About 25-30 years ago I found a bulldog ants nest in the back yard when I was still living with my family. It took TWO incinerations with petrol to eradicate the bastards.

Of course what I'd really like to do with them is this:

I haven't found the nest yet, or seen any more ants. I'm pretty sure it was a stray brought in on a neighbour's firewood.

I'd love to fill a nest with molten aluminium if only to burn the buggers out.

I actually have some experience in playing with moltern aluminium. My brother salvaged a rotary air pump from somewhere, and we built a very crude clay furnace, burning coal scavenged from a colliery railway we lived near. It's surprising what a low melting point aluminum has.

With your engineering skills we could probably rig up something more practical.

If you do find a nest and you have some rainy weather coming up, go out just as the rain is starting and dump a bottle of dish detergent on the nest. The rain will wash it in, the detergent will penetrate the ants' waxy outer coating, and they'll drown. Not as satisfying as incinerating them, perhaps, but a lot safer for your neighbors. :-)

Nope nope nope. Speaking as someone who has both passed a kidney stone and been stung by a tarantula hawk I have to say if I found those in my house I would fucking move.

To Mars.

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