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Irukandji
 
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Antlions for all of us

06 August 2012, 14:37

Have you ever considered keeping an ant lion for a pet? Try it – you might be pleasantly surprised.

“Pay attention now, Class, it’s time for our daily quiz. What creature is brown with a large head, short legs, and a soft body?”

From the back of the class: “Malema, sir.”

“Who said that? You again, Kosie van der Merwe! Leave the room immediately, you bloody little racist agent!”

OK, let’s start over. This story is about the Antlion – a small brown insect with a large head, etc – a truly remarkable gogga, also known as the “Doodlebug.” Not because of its predilection for canoodling, but for the spiralling trails it makes – which resembles drawings in the sand – while it looks for a place to build its home.

This insect caters to all our correctly politicised whims:

It is not a lion – so all you save-the-rhino fanatics need not be worried; the lion population will not disappear once people start keeping them as pets. It is not an ant – so you Hindus need not concern yourself that your reincarnated grandmother will be doomed to captivity.

And, as for you Christians: “Go to the ant lion, thou sluggards; consider her ways, and be wise.” Or something like that.

The ant lion does not annoy the neighbours with its barking. It does not pee on the carpet. It does not poo on the lawn. It does not leave hair on the couch. It does not try to copulate with your leg. It does not. Really.

All you need is a small plastic container – the size of a lunch box – some sand, and a good supply of ants. And an ant lion, of course. Feed it three or four ants daily – and there you go.

For those of you who have never heard of these little buggers; a short explanation:

The ant lion is the larval stage of the lacewing – an insect resembling a *dragonfly. In the larval stage, it makes a conical trap in the sand by going around in ever-diminishing circles; while flipping tiny pebbles of sand away from itself.  

Finally, it ends up with a finely balanced trap – the sand at the critical angle of repose. This angle is equal to the **arctangent of the coefficient of static friction between the surfaces.

Now it waits. When an unsuspecting insect – mostly those ants who voted for the DA – falls into the trap, the ant lion grabs it with its hollow pinchers, and sucks out its body fluids and lifeblood. Much like the ANC does to us.

Here is a game all you atheists can play with your ant lion:

Imagine you are Nero – the ant lion trap is the Colosseum – the little ants that you feed to your pet are Christians – and your ant lion is a real lion. You can almost hear the ants screaming, begging for their lives!! ***Beseeching you!

You ignore their pleas. You chin your Stradivarius, and play Rachmaninoff’s 18th Variation on a Theme of Paganini by Chris Finelli. Happy at last!

Now will you please stop fighting on News24?

*dragonfly – yes, we all know: dragons don’t fly
**arctangent – like an archbishop but without the purple Batman costume
***Beseech – not to be confused with BEE: a form of reverse-apartheid which prevent white ants from finding jobs
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