Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ants at a Picnic

That's where I'm headed and what I'll be doing the rest of the day....

"Two-by-two-million, the ants are marching in" by Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  August 18, 2016

The ants invaded Courtenay Sanchez’s bedroom under cover of darkness, pouring through an open window and feasting on a cookie she’d left on the bed, crawling over her sheets and scaling her walls.

Armed with a bottle of Lysol, she tried to beat back the miniature army.

Yeah, chemicals will kill anything!

“I was just like, DIE DIE DIE!” said Sanchez, 20 — but by morning they were still coming. “These suckers are pretty resilient.”

The attitude disturbs me. It doesn't mean I want to live with pestilence, but I'm not fanatic about killing any life form that has just as much a right to exist as you or I.

All over drought-plagued New England, ants are marching into houses and apartments, congregating in kitchen sinks and staging tiny town hall meetings in toilets. The hot, dry weather has driven down their numbers, entomologists say, but it’s also driven those that remain indoors as they search for water.

“It’s stressing them out,” said Jonathan Boyar, owner of Ecologic Entomology, a Boston pest control company. And just like the rest of us, he said, ants need water — a need met by scouring your kitchen for moisture.

Not out here, but then again, I'm not leaving food lying around.

But as any horrified homeowner who has reached for a can of Raid discovers, these ants can’t really be sprayed away. In the long game that ants play, blasting them with insecticide can actually make them stronger. Instead, ant bait products — poison disguised as food, that foot soldiers take back to their colonies — can be much more effective than sprays.

The war against ants is the way my war-promoting paper frames all issues.

Many of the calls firms usually get are for carpenter ants, which seek out moisture in wood, and then set about destroying trees and houses. But given that homes all over New England are drier than kindling right now, the carpenter ants are mostly minding their own business.

Instead, harmless survivors — pharaoh ants, pavement ants, little black ants — crawl inside, in search of water that they store up and bring back to their colonies. From that perspective, “ants are just trying to make a living,” said Stefan Cover, a curatorial assistant at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Aren't we all?

Cover curates the ant collection, which the museum calls “the largest and most important ant collection in the world,” and has traveled the country collecting specimens and doing field work. He said nobody has ever undertaken a count of all the ants in the museum’s collection — it would take forever and at the end all you’d have is a really big number of ants — but he said it’s surely somewhere between 500,000 and a million.

His fascination with ants has spanned decades, and the occasional ant ambling across his countertop is no cause for alarm. “They’re not disgusting or dirty,” said Cover. “They spend an enormous amount of time cleaning themselves. More than humans.”

Speak for yourself, you misanthropic sob.

Cover called “the traditional model of how people interact with nature” — it’s fine outside but keep it out of my house — absurd.

“There are hundreds of different invertebrates that live inside your house,” Cover said. “They’re your neighbors. Just because you’re not aware of them, doesn’t mean they’re not there.”

Well, I won't bother them if they don't bother me.



Intense wildfires in Mass. limit ability to help out west

That mean no vacation?

Extreme drought extended across Northeastern Mass.

Look who is calling for rationing.

25 years ago, New England felt the fury of Bob

And 25 years later a tornado hits Concord.

Then the rainbow came out.

"Hydroponics operation takes root in Devens" by Hattie Bernstein Globe Correspondent  August 21, 2016

Americans have taken for granted a seemingly endless supply of natural resources — land, water, fossil fuel — that now, in the wake of droughts, freezes, and other changes wrought by climate change, are giving farmers pause.

Who has taken things for granted, you pos elitist pre$$? 

No wonder my enthusiasm for them is wilting.

So although hydroponic farming methods have been available in the United States for more than 30 years, they have only recently begun to catch on.

“It’s taken off now because the market finally caught up with the technology,” said Gene Giacomelli, a professor of agriculture and biosystems engineering at the University of Arizona who helped design the food growth chamber, a hydroponic growing system at the US research station at the South Pole.

And because some corporate concern can now make a buck. That's our $y$tem.

At the same time, consumer demand for packaged salads is growing....


They have developed a CRISPR lettuce and called it Casebia.

RelatedIndian Drought Over

"Indian forces fire at Kashmir protesters, killing 1" Associated Press  August 22, 2016

SRINAGAR, India — One young man was killed and dozens wounded in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Sunday as government forces fired shotguns and tear gas at protesters demanding an end to Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region.

The man was hit by a tear gas shell in his chest during clashes between rock-throwing protesters and government troops in Srinagar, the region’s main city, said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy. The man died later at a hospital.

At least 70 civilians were injured during several other clashes in the northern areas of Sopore, Baramulla, and Ganderbal.

A security lockdown and protest strikes continued for the 44th straight day Sunday. The killing of a popular rebel commander on July 8 sparked some of Kashmir’s largest protests against Indian rule in recent years."

That was the end of the Globe's brief downpour of coverage.


"Walmart Stores said it’s reviewing Welspun India’s cotton certification records, joining Target to scrutinize the supplier over cheaper bedsheets being passed off as premium Egyptian cotton and sending the Indian company’s stock down. Walmart is Welspun’s third-largest customer, behind Target, which said late last week it had pulled sheets and pillowcases off its shelves after discovering they were mislabeled as Egyptian cotton. It also terminated all business with the supplier. Welspun said it manufactures every fifth towel sold in the United States and counts J.C. Penney Co. and Macy’s Inc. among its customers."