ANTS! Love ’em or hate ’em, they are a fact of life.

Sometimes, they are hailed as heroes; sometimes, they are kind of evil.

Ants gather ancient relics and jewels from the earth ~

Listen, if you grew up on a ranch in the mountains of Arizona as I did with no television, no nearby neighbors, and certainly no cellphones, you might also think watching fat red ants bring treasures home to their anthills was loads of fun. If I stood or squatted on a rock beside the mounds and didn’t wiggle very much, the ants considered me scenery, which was okay by me.

I mean . . . some ant attention can be stingingly painful, right?

The ants carried pieces of sticks, weeds, rocks, dead insects *especially beetles and wasps* and flicks of flint back to their mounds without a word of complaint. Invariably, they took their gleaned goodies straight into the mysterious hole leading into the central parts of their colony.

Can you visualize a couple of sweating ants lugging a crystalized wasp wing into the throne room to show off to Queenie?

I never actually witnessed the ants placing items on the outside of their pebbly hills. Probably, they had to obtain Queenie’s permission before they did any outside decorating, even at Christmas.

Unless they were rebels.

I don’t think I saw any rebel ants, but I thought I saw one wearing a teeny-tiny leather outfit once. Or did I imagine that?

While anthill watching, did I ever see this tiny “ant” in a leather suit and mask?

My favorite anthill pickings to take home with me were the tiny hollow-bone beads, little bits of ancient pottery, fragments of flint, and obsidian. Less often, I found miniature arrowheads fashioned centuries earlier for hunting small animals and birds.

What I never found was an Arizona pyrope garnet—an anthill garnet.

Reportedly, most of the anthill garnets (silicates) are mined by ants from beneath the earth in the Navajo Nation. The gems are not only rare but also known to be some of the brightest reds of the entire garnet family. Arizona pyrope garnets were used to make bullets by the Navajos in the 1800s. Rumor has it the Navajos believed the dark red color helped produce fatal wounds. I haven’t asked any of my Navajo friends if that’s true, so I mention it here only as a point of interest.

One myth I’m happy to squash is about the two- and three-carat size “anthill garnets” touted on infomercials and in ads. Though sources vary widely about how much weight an ant can carry (from ten to fifty times its own weight and I lean toward the latter), it’s doubtful an ant can carry much more than a garnet about the size of an English pea.


Ants are Inspirational ~

Thousands of quotes and comparisons star the lowly ant. Here are a few:

Thoreau said it wasn’t enough to be busy like ants, but that “we should also know what we are busy about.” Hmm, Good idea. I think Thoreau would agree that ants mining red jewels out of the earth is both targeted and resourceful. Just think, they do all that work with no pickaxes, pullies, or hard hats.

Marie Dressler said, “If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?” Why, indeed?

“The ant finds kingdoms in a foot of ground.” ~ Stephen Vincent Benét  Right, and yet some people can’t find their kingdom in a ten-million dollar mansion.

David Jason said, “It seems to me that as soon as politicians get in, they become part of this club, and the rest of us, beneath them, are just ants running about. They become besotted with their position.” Who doesn’t agree with that? Ah, I hear crickets, but that’s a subject for another blog.

Ants creep into novels, sometimes inciting havoc ~

Yes, they do, and ANTS are the catalyst launching one of Silki Begay’s most crazy, dangerous summers in Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: Summer of the Ancient.


So… there are ants, and there are humans. Is it true that we would perish without them? Many think so. I just like to think of them as industrious little critters that made my isolated childhood a lot better than it would have been without them. Have you ever thanked the ants for anything? Go ahead. We won’t tell! Hey, I love to hear from you, so drop me a comment.

Jodi Lea Stewart - Silki, Summer of the AncientJodi Lea Stewart - Silki, Canyon of Doom

Jodi Lea Stewart - Silki, Valley of Shadows








About Jodi Lea Stewart

Author Jodi Lea Stewart ~ Laughing Makes it All Worthwhile ~



Jodi Lea Stewart is a fiction author who believes in and writes about the triumph of the human spirit through overcoming adversity via grit, humor, and stubborn tenacity. Her writing reflects her life beginning in Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, later moving as a youngster to an Arizona cattle ranch next door to the Navajo Nation, and, as a young adult, resuming in her native Texas. Growing up, she climbed petroglyph-etched boulders, bounced two feet in the air in the backend of pickups wrestling through washed-out terracotta roads, and rode horseback on the winds of her imagination through the arroyos and mountains of the Arizona high country. Her lifetime friendship with all nationalities, cowpunchers, and the southern gentry allows Jodi to write comfortably about anything in the Southwest, the South, and far BEYOND.



Watch the Book Trailer for THE GOLD ROSE HERE.

I write historical fiction centered around the early to mid-twentieth century. My latest novel, THE GOLD ROSE, involves the Japanese invasion of China and the ensuing civil war that ushered in modern-day communism. No matter what the circumstances, eras, conflicts, or main plots entail… my goal is always to create characters everyone relates to. I believe that’s the kind of connective reading in which the reader and writer actually share a point in time. 😊 Happy reading, y’all!





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