The herb garden is on the side of the house, and the bed closest to the house is mostly hostas and mulch because it’s an old house and I didn’t want to plant anything edible there, since it most likely had lead paint sometime in the past. As part of my plan of nonedibility, I put a little stone plaque that my sister-in-law gave me two Christmases ago there.

This year, I decided that I was going to put in some flowers that I didn’t have space or inclination to put anywhere else–specifically, red flax, marigolds, and four o’clocks. So I started pushing the mulch back, and around the plaque I noticed there were a lot of ants. I dug a little and noticed that there were some white things that looked a lot like larvae or pupae. I pushed the plaque out of the way, and found this:

5-17 ant nest

That’s a full-on ant nest. You can see the white masses of juveniles, with ants scrambling everywhere once their roof was removed. I even saw what was either a large winged ant or a small and badly lost fly come stumbling out of one of the tunnels.

The ants killed my cabbage plants last year by tunneling around their roots, plus I didn’t like how close to the house this was and let’s face it, I have major destructive impulses. Otherwise I wouldn’t be a gardener. (Discuss.)  So I dug this nest up as much as I could and mixed up the dirt and crushed all the pupae I could see. I left it a mostly-destroyed shambles, exposed to the air, its denizens dead or wildly disordered. I am a bad, bad person. When I noticed a few dark ants and white lumps in the dirt around the new bean sprouts yesterday I felt little remorse, though I do recognize that I may be experiencing the ant version of sweet revenge if none of my beans make it to maturity this year.

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