Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice—an entomologist and writer who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and who just published four new guides on ants—recalls growing up having a fascination with ants (and other insects), but unlike most kids, she never lost that for bugs. Spicer Rice addresses what she’s found so enchanting about ants over all these years that most of us may have missed, mentioning as an aside that Florida has 200 species of ants, and noting that she also had an academic and personal interest in bees. Part of what made the conversation with Dr. Spicer Rice so fun and entertaining—and illuminating—was that a large number of listeners participated, calling or emailing with questions or comments. Including a Buddhist gentleman who observed that contractors and workmen coming to his home were incredulous to learn he doesn’t kill any ants, wasps or other bugs or critters there…and recalled a stint at a Buddhist monastery where a visiting woman who had a horrible history with mosquito bites was told there’d be no killing anything at the monastery, was worried she’d wind up covered in bites—and was, magically, totally left alone by the mosquitos. Another caller, Warren, was seeking remedies for a swarm of bees that had collected on his FPL meter, and wanted to remove the bees without harming them; multiple listeners called in with suggested solutions. But the interview was ostensibly about ants, and did draw on the first of Spicer Rice’s guides, “Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants”: She spoke about Pavement Ants, Odorous House Ants—and fire ants. As in the Red Imported Fire Ant, an invasive species notorious for its painful sting—and an insect that became a part of the news coverage of Hurricane Harvey, with a number of stories reporting that clumps of fire ants were floating in floodwaters in and around Houston. Dr. Spicer Rice explains how fire ants interlink their legs and bodies, allowing great numbers of them to “raft” in the water.
COMEDY CORNER: David Huntsberger’s “The God of Ants” (portion) (www.davidhuntsberger.com)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Steely Dan’s “Monkey In Your Soul.” R.I.P., Walter Becker.
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