Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ants in the Machine

Okay... so about two weeks ago I printed up a document, and when I picked it up from the printer I noticed there were a few dead ants on the paper. I didn't think anything of it because I occasionally get ants and other bugs in my office. I also have half a dozen daddy long legs that take care of business. But this time they failed to do their jobs and I in turn was completely unprepared for something that happened a few days later...

I needed to scan a document but when I opened the lid I was confronted with a swarm of ants. There were easily a thousand in there. I was completely in shock. What was worse was the fact that I could see clumps of eggs under the glass and what looked like winged ants. I'm not usually queasy but it was kinda disgusting. I had to face facts... I had an ant colony living in my printer.

I promptly unplugged it, took it outside and placed it on the back of one of the farm trucks. I opened the lid in the sun and the worker ants promptly went into overdrive to move the eggs from the nursery into the deepest chambers of the printer. I suspect there was a queen in there somewhere. You can see some of the yellowish eggs in the last pic. This is probably ten percent of the entire load... they moved the bulk of the eggs in about five minutes. An extraordinary feat!

I didn't want to destroy the nest but I did want my printer back so I ended up leaving it on the back of the truck for several days, covered with a towel. After about three or four days most of the colony had moved out. 

Today I had to deconstruct the printer. It took me about an hour to clean what I could, although I couldn't get into the deepest chamber or clean the underside of the glass which was covered in smears. I haven't tested the printer and I suspect it will need to be serviced by a technician. On the other hand it may just be cheaper to buy a new printer. It's the end of the financial year so I may be able to pick up a bargain.

What do I make out it? Well it's winter now so I think the colony decided to relocate into a new dry warm home with lots of subterranean tunnels and chambers for the ant hierarchy. It was quite extraordinary on one hand but a real pain on the other, as I needed to go off site to print, copy and scan documents and it looks like it cost me a printer.

A comics buddy of mine has already claimed the premise for a story. He can have it with pleasure! I'll let you know if he ever does anything with it so you can read it for yourselves.

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