In Far North Queensland, Australia, there is a never-ending fight with Myrmex, the ants. My family of three was living in the rainforest and our house was open-air with screens but no glass. The tiny black opportunistic creatures were constantly searching for any food particles, no matter how minute. They had to be minute. The number of times that I wiped the counter tops was shocking. There were indentations forming in areas that I had scrubbed over and over in a futile attempt to rid the kitchen of ants.
There are nearly 4000 species of ants in Australia, so I’m going to go ahead and say they had more right to be there than I. And I didn’t have a problem giving them their space, but I don’t like ants in my food, and I don’t like ants in my bed. Occasionally, while sitting at that kitchen bar, listening to the rainforest birds in the early morning, I would look down to find little ant bodies floating in my coffee. It would always astound me as I would ponder where they came from and how they got in there so quickly. And despite the fact that I would then have to throw my coffee away and pour another cup, I found a small bit of satisfaction in ridding the kitchen of a few more ants.
It could have been worse. I found a local news article about the large green ants in Queensland, who apparently give a nasty little bite from their mandibles. A poor elderly woman was fighting a nest that had been built under her house somewhere and they were constantly in her carpet and furniture, so that whenever she wanted to rest in her den she would end up with dozens of bites. I think I’d move. Bulldoze the house. It’s just not worth it. If Mother Nature wants it that bad, she can have it.
I figure the only other option is to turn the house into a restaurant. Apparently, Queensland chefs have recently experimented with using the crushed-up green abdomens in fusion cuisine because they taste like citrus. Now that’s what I call using your resources wisely.
The ants were an interesting introduction to rainforest life for me. I loved living in Queensland. I loved everything about it, except maybe ants in my coffee, but what I learned was that every creature, big and small, has a place. And living near Daintree, the oldest living rainforest on earth, has a way of making you very aware of how small and insignificant we really are.
After several years of nearly perpetual travel, the author now lives in North Carolina with her husband and their two children. Growing up, she traveled extensively around the United States, but it wasn’t until college that the author began to travel internationally. She met her husband in graduate school and, after discovering a shared love of life on the road, they embarked on the first of many amazing adventures together. The author has a PhD in Oceanography, and spent ten years working in environmental microbiology research. She quit her job in 2007 to travel around the world with her husband and 3 year old daughter. During that time the author began documenting the details of such extensive travel with a small child. Today she is an advocate for encouraging families to get out and see the world together. The author is currently planning a new adventure for her family where she is looking forward to including her sweet little boy in all the fun.