Wild HousematesBy Antonia Ant, as told to Ellen Lambeth; Art by Jay Fosgitt
Hi, I’m Antonia Ant. Welcome to my home. C’mon in and meet some of my “wild” housemates!
You probably should know that a family like yours lives in this house, too. We’re all looking for the same things: food, water, shelter, and space for the kids.
The people here act as if they own the place! They often don’t even know we’re here. When they find out, they usually try to get rid of us. But as long as we stay out of their way, it’s a pretty good deal for us.
A CARPENTER ANT like me, for example, really appreciates a place like this. Wherever my ant pals and I find some wet wood, we’re happy. We chew through it to make our nests. What if too many of us chew too much? Well, the wood does finally fall apart, so we move on. For some reason, humans hate to find us in their homes.
My tiny jaws are nothing next to the chompers on Minerva Mouse, who is headed for trouble. She’s already chewed a big hole through the wall. And now she’s gnawing that electrical cable. Shocking!
Mice can and do gnaw on just about anything. Maybe Minerva is keeping her teeth in shape or is collecting material for nest-building. Or maybe the cable is just blocking her way.
That’s Minerva’s cousin Dani Deer Mouse. If you look underneath, you can tell them apart. Deer mice have white fur there, and house mice don’t. As you can see, Dani is ready to raise a family. See how she borrowed things from her human housemates to make her cozy nest?
How did these mice get inside? It doesn’t take much of an opening. They can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime!
Check out the mass of red dots on that house wall. It’s a cozy cluster of ladybugs during the chilly season. Some adult insects die off in winter. But not these beetles. Once things warm up in the spring, they split up and head their separate ways.
There’s always action in the kitchen—especially at night after the lights are out. That’s when Robin Roach prowls the counters. Jackpot! Here’s a fun fact for you: A single cockroach mom could have 30,000 babies in a year. Guess you could call that a full house, right?
LITTLE BROWN BATS
Uh-oh, look who squeezed in through some cracks in the attic for a snooze. Betty and her friends found a safe space for raising a new generation of bats. Sorry, Betty—don’t chirp at us. We didn’t mean to startle you. Now, don’t panic and try to escape into the people’s part of the house. If that happens, you’ll set off an even bigger panic! Just go back to sleep.
Meet Harry House Spider. No, he’s not trying to take a bath. He either crawled into the tub for a sip—or he slipped. Bathtubs can be hard to climb out of. By the way, I have more reason than you do to be afraid of spiders. They’d much rather eat insects like me than annoy you humans.
I could say the same thing about Cindy Centipede. She’s a real pro at gobbling up insects that try to make a living here. People freak out when they see Cindy making a quick getaway on all those legs. But they should be happy she’s around—as long as they never catch sight of her!
Is there any room at this inn? Camille Cricket is crawling up a window screen, looking for a way inside. She usually visits in search of shelter when the weather turns cold. She thinks the basement in a house is as good as any cave, where most of her relatives live. Now, don’t confuse hump-backed Camille with a house or field cricket. Her kind is the quiet type. The others are the ones that come inside and chirp-chirp-chirp at night.
Please tell me that’s not Ranger Rick! Nah, he would never scrounge for garbage. He has his own nice oak tree home over in Deep Green Wood. This is Roger Raccoon, making a mess of someone’s trash. He can’t help it, though. He’s just looking for easy eats that somebody threw out with the trash. People really need to do a better job of securing their garbage! Raccoons freeload off humans all the time. Some might even crawl into a chimney or attic space to use as a nursery.
Well, that’s it. I enjoyed your visit. Maybe next time, we could tour your house. I’d LOVE to see who YOUR wild housemates are!