Something that’s not mentioned in any of the brochures I’ve read about the ‘Paradise Island of the Gods’ that is Bali, concerns the ant population. These tiny creatures constitute, as far as I know, one of the largest communities in Bali.
I am often reminded of their presence, especially early in the morning, as I walk into the kitchen to prepare for the day ahead. In the dim light just before the sun’s glorious rising and if I am still not quite awake, and fail to check the floor, I will find myself immediately wide awake as I become their latest feast.
These tiny creatures descend, en masse within minutes to scavenge even the smallest traces of food. Flour, crumbs, oil, sugar are like magnets that draw them by the zillions, especially before it rains. Left to their own devices they are amazing garbage collectors.
However to walk into their midst in the early hours of the morning, is to become an irresistible delicacy, as they swarm, with lightening speed on any available part of one’s anatomy. Their consequent sampling of your flesh, has the power to set one hopping and slapping them off as they rush in all directions to taste the enormous food package that has arrived in their midst…. surely a gift from their gods!
Out comes the broom. Their orderly pathways are disrupted in what for them must be a cataclysmic event. However the speed with which they reorganise their marching columns is a miracle to observe. It doesn’t take long for them to come back, unless one uses some noxious substance, such as kerosene, to disguise their way.
There are so many different types of ants here. There are red ones, black ones, brown ones, big ones, small ones, each with a different Life’s Purpose. There are those who bite and those who don’t. There are the white ones that eat houses unless one takes the drastic measures of extermination. If you don’t, you may come crashing through the floor or alternatively have the house come crashing down on you.
The older Balinese people have a wealth of knowledge concerning each type of ant. They have names to describe whatever attribute each species possess. They are more that happy to share their knowledge with anyone interested enough to ask.
Enough for now!