December 5, 2016

Homeschool Programs

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center holds monthly homeschool programs for ages 4 to 6 and ages 7 to 10. Programs are held on the first Thursday of the month through April. 
Ages 7 to 10

Thursdays, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. 
January 5: Interrelationships
February 2: Populations
March 2: Habitats
April 6: Ecosystems
The primary interpretive focus of the Science Center's programs and exhibits is community ecology, which has four major concepts: Habitats, Adaptations, Populations, and Interrelationships (HAPI). Join us with your child to investigate these topics in depth.
All About Series
Ages 4 to 6
Thursdays, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

January 5: Skunks
February 2: Groundhogs
March 2: Owls
April 6: Turtles
Join us with your homeschooled child to learn all about New Hampshire wildlife. Ecah session considers a different group of living things through activities, hands-on experiences, and a meeting with a live animal.
Cost: $9/member child per session; $11/non-member child per session
An adult must participate with children at no additional cost. Each additional adult pays child fee. 
All Homeschool Programs align with the New Hampshire Science Framework.

October 17, 2016

Golden Memories

To celebrate our fiftieth anniversary we have been hearing from our past staff, volunteers, guests, and others who have shared their golden memories. Here are a few:

"I was introduced to Squam Lakes Natural Science Center when my children were young. It was a special place to visit with them, and with friends and family. Seeing the animals in their natural habitat, playing learning games at exhibits, and attending various summer camp weeks helped my children to learn about our natural world. I can't wait to bring my grandchildren to the Science Center in the near future!" -Barbara Laverack

"Boy, it would be difficult to narrow it down to just one memory. I enjoyed programs and field trips as a kid, which no doubt contributed to my continued interest in wildlife. I remember very vividly the snowy owl and of course the crooked-nosed doe from those elementary field trips. I have incredible memories from my time as an intern, guided discoveries instructor, and assistant naturalist (2003-2006). From taking baby bats and woodchucks home overnight to giving programs with raptors and small mammals, every day working with animals and kids was different, fun and exciting. I also had a lot of fun designing the 40th Anniversary timeline in the Webster Building. It's hard to believe that 10 years has passed since then! I am incredibly grateful to all of my mentors/co-workers/friends at the center from that time. The things I learned from you are deeply woven into my career as a science teacher and curriculum writer today! Happy 50th!" -Sarah Benton Feitlinger

"I have so many wonderful memories of being a "Future Naturalist" in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was such an amazing program and I feel very fortunate to have had those summers to spend working with and caring for NH wildlife at the Science Center. Those experiences and the memories of the individual animals I fed and cared for so many years ago continue to inspire my creative work today as a wood carver. Thank you to everyone who made this memorable part of my youth possible!" -Lisa Laughy

"The first time I remember going to Squam Lakes Natural Science Center was in 1992. I took my Dad and four year old my daughter. We walked the trails as far as Kirkwood garden, and then stopped in the shop that was there at that time. My daughter decided to get a brightly flowered umbrella. We started back towards the welcome center, but just before we got to the field, a thunderstorm blew through. We took shelter (probably at the raptors area) until the wind died down. She was so pleased to be able to use her umbrella for the rest of our walk. Little did I know then that less than ten years later I would be working at the Science Center and renting their pontoon boats to get married on Church Island. Now I am taking my grandson to the Science Center each year. Some places just become family." -Nancy Durgin

"Our son worked at the Science Center when he was a student at Holderness Central. He really looked forward to going to the Science Center on his 'work days' and came home pretty excited about what he had seen and done that day. He has since gone on to get his PhD in Forest Ecology at the University of California-Berkeley, and although his time at the Science Center is not totally responsible for that outcome, I know that his time at the Science Center was seminal to his interest in the natural sciences. As a side note, our daughters also baby sat for the children of one of the first directors of the Science Center, an experience that made us realize that Holderness and the Squam Lakes region had a wonderful establishment." -Larry Spencer

September 20, 2016

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center Receives Accreditation from Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center announces it has been granted accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) independent Accreditation Commission.

To be accredited, the Science Center underwent a thorough review to assure it has and will continue to meet rising standards, which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete the rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquariums professionals. The Science Center’s on-site inspection took place in May. The inspecting team observed all aspects of operations, including animal care and welfare; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff, and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and other areas. Science Center Executive Director Iain MacLeod attended a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission on September 8 in San Diego, where he found out the Science Center has been granted accreditation for a third five-year period.

“The Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredits only those zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards. By achieving AZA-accreditation, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center demonstrates that it is dedicated to protecting species and educating its visitors about the natural world,” said AZA Interim President and CEO Kris Vehrs. “The community can take great pride in knowing that the Science Center is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of conservationists.”

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center first received accreditation in 2006 and applied for and was granted accreditation again in 2011. They continue to be the only institution in northern New England to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

2016 has been a big year for Squam Lakes Natural Science Center with celebrations throughout the year for its fiftieth anniversary; publication of two nature books; the opening of the new Water Matters Pavilion, which includes 18 water-related exhibits and live animals; and more visitors learning about New Hampshire nature than ever before.

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center has added many improvements and expansions over the past few years at the culmination of the Nature Matters capital campaign, which raised $4 million to help secure the future of the Science Center. The campaign funded new exhibits including Wood Energy, the Gordon Interactive Playscape, and Water Matters Pavilion, in addition to improving the behind-the-scenes living quarters for program raptors. The campaign also raised money to maintain facilities and exhibits in the future, and added to reserve funds.

“We are thrilled to have this recognition of our hard work and devotion to the highest possible industry standards,” said Iain MacLeod, Executive Director. “It is a testament to our staff, volunteers, and visitors, who throughout our history, have helped make the Science Center into the impressive institution it is today.”

September 7, 2016

Visiting a historical hearth - the Piper Homestead

By Danica Melone, Marketing Intern

About two-thirds of the way up the Forest Trail, a cove of pine trees opens to reveal a small cellar hole just off the path. Nearby, a large placard describes the scene with artifacts: fragments of dinnerware, a silver spoon, colonial coins, and other pieces left by the inhabitants of a family farmhouse built on the property. Opposite the cellar hole, on the other side of the trail, is the site of the barn that once stood before all was lost in a fire. The cellar hole and barn belonged to James and Sophronia Piper and their children; built in 1847 “between the Peak of Fayal and the Minister's Lott... a homestead on a narrow plateau tucked into a steep slope." (doc. 105.)

At this point, you might be wondering about how the Piper family came to be, or what the Minister's Lott is. The land that the Science Center sprawls out on is entrenched in a rich history dating back to the very beginning of Holderness. Its history is more impressive than simply serving as a small livestock and agricultural plot for the Piper family. In fact, the grounds were home to more than just one family; the Science Center grounds were originally owned by the Reverend Robert Fowle. (As a note, this was the beginning of European settlers continuing their dispersion outward from the East coast. Thus, this historical account does not reference any prior inhabitants, but it is critical to remember that Native Americans were present on and around Squam Lake at the time.)

Just prior to his settling in 1804, Robert Fowle, a reverend of the Episcopal church, was entitled to a plot of land called the Minister's Lott by "the town's eighteenth century charter" (doc. 400). The entitlement allowed Reverend Fowle to essentially "choose" where his Minister's Lott would lie, keeping in mind that by 1803, sections of the Minister's Lott must be portioned off for the Episcopal Church and cemetery. Reverened Fowle choose a nice plot of land right on "the North shore of Little Squam" lake, which he would eventually begin to section off and sell "for economic gain" (doc. 400).

Sparse census data from the 18th century tells us that Reverend Fowle began selling pieces of his property as early as 1804, with James Piper showing up in census records in 1847 as a neighbor abutting the north-side of the Reverend's property. In September of 1847, records show that the Revered Robert Fowle passed away, leaving the the property to his only heir; his nephew Robert True. Widow of Reverend Fowle, Martha Fowle, eventually sold the property to her son-in-law, Henry True later that year. Robert True, in the meantime, was schooling at the New Hampton Institute, St. Johnsbury Academy, and the Bangor Theological Seminary where he was classified "as a Congregationalists who was ordained an evangelist in 1881" (doc. 401).

Meanwhile, James Piper was buying up tracts of land and selling them; one plot was near White Oak Pond while were others scattered inland. Eventually, James Piper purchased the land “below the Peak of [Mt.] Fayal” by 1847 and quickly built the family homestead (doc.402). Sparse records from this time allude to a trail, most likely a Native American-used path, which was the only sign of inhabitance on this property prior to the Piper’s arrival. As the years passed, James Piper’s son, George, came into the land records as a new constituent of the property. In June of 1876, land records show a $1000 transaction ultimately giving half of everything owned on the Piper property to George Piper. This included an “undivided half of [the] homestead” and “one half of the stock of every sort” (doc.402).

Robert True ended up not returning to the homestead, allowing Henry True and his wife Martha True, one of three daughters to Reverend Robert and Martha Fowle, to continue to inhabitant the space. At this time, Henry and Martha True “rented” half of their property to Martha’s unwed sisters, Mary and Margaret, at the rate of $40/year. This was most likely a simple legal transaction for the sake of record keeping, yet still helps paint a picture of the economic hardships during the era. In 1875, the property would be sold to John Davison who was married to the daughter of James and Sophronia Piper, Betsy. By this point in 1875, James and Sophronia Piper were getting older and so John and Betsy Davison’s decision to reside “on the Southern boundary of the Piper Homestead made sound economic sense for the Davison/Piper family unit” (doc.403). Less than a decade later, James Piper passed away leaving Sophronia and their unwed daughter, Latitia, to finally sell the property in 1888 from the economic burden. Thankfully, the property was purchased by John and Betsy Davison, marking the official “joining of the two properties” (doc.403).

The Davison family thrived on the property for many years; as they realized their agricultural prospects were not well-suited for the region, so they began mixing “tourism with agriculture and forestry” (doc. 403). In the beginning, the Davisons used the “old Fowle parsonage as a summer boarding house” to accommodate the increasing presence of tourists (doc.403). As their niche industry grew, the Davison’s replaced the boarding house “with a more ambitious structure, the Central House,” which was later re-built after a fire, and renamed again as the Holderness Inn (doc.403). Though historical records do not provide the exact date, sometime after 1888, The Piper Homestead burned down leaving only a cellar hole along the path which is seen today on one of the Science Center’s hiking trails.

Our historical record recounts a day in 1977 when the great-grandson of James and Sophronia Piper, John Davison, walked the trail with the second Science Center director (then called the Science Center of New Hampshire), Robert Nichols. The great-grandson of these two historical figures, remembered the past uses of the land: thriving gardens and agricultural patches with timber lots nearby provided the family with many basic needs. Incredibly, John Davison recalled at one time being able to see the expanse of Squam Lake from the cellar-hole site, which was also used by the Piper family as a favorite family picnic spot.

Today, the remaining sites of this history include the Piper cellar hole, the Holderness Inn, and the Bridge Cemetery in Holderness. The Piper cellar hole and its artefactual remains may be visited via a short hike from the Science Center at the junction of the Forest and Mount Fayal hiking trails; a peaceful spot where you may look back in time by standing in what was once the side yard between the Piper’s homestead and barn. The Holderness Inn has seen various uses from the Science Center over the past century and now serves as beautiful, historic structure housing the Squam Lakes Artisans shop and Kirkwood Café, all on the same floor. In addition, the Holderness Inn represents the last of the “grand hotels” to still be standing while the others, built around the lakes in a similar grandiose fashion, have since burned down and were never rebuilt. Reverend Robert Fowle’s Episcopal Church burned down before his own death, though the date is unknown. Reverend Fowle’s second task as the first Holderness minister was to develop a plot of land for the cemetery, eventually named Bridge Cemetery. Legend has it that the location of Reverened Fowle’s headstone in Bridge Cemetery marks where his pulpit once stood in the church.

With all of that new information regarding historic land use at the Science Center, I’ll leave you with this [sorry, lengthy] excerpt from our historical account: “The Minister’s Lott represented the first phase of Holderness settlement, reserved for the first settled minister of the township, Massachusetts-born Robert Fowle of the Episcopal Church. The Piper Homestead reflected the second phase, used by a native-born son to provide a home for his family, his father’s lands already burned by other demands. However, by the end of the nineteenth-century, changing economic strategies forced the consolidation of the two properties” (doc.403.)

Thankfully, you are able to visit three of these historic locations in Holderness, with two being located right on the Science Center property. Enjoy a fresh, locally-made lunch on the terrace of Kirkwood Gardens from Kirkwood Café (open during July and August), and visit the incredibly creative Squam Lakes Artisans shop inside. If you have a few extra hours (we suggest a 90-minute minimum), take the easy hike up to the Piper cellar hole on our Forest Trail. The site of the cellar hole and it’s artifacts rests just below where the trail becomes “narrow, steep, and winding, [yet] it serves as a reminder that hill farms existed in isolated sites and yet still maintained fragile links to a larger world” (journ. 005).

Excerpts in this blog are from a report written by Blake Allen, Director of the Pakistani Educational Leadership Institute (PELI), College of Graduate Studies at Plymouth State University) and the Holderness Historical Society.

August 15, 2016

Upper Pond

By Danica Melone, Marketing Intern

I have never been disappointed with extra walking for the reward of the reaching the Upper Pond. Towards the end of the exhibit trail, between the Raptor Exhibit and marsh boardwalk, signs offer guests another attraction up a path to an unseen pond. I've found that guests tend to divert past this attraction, likely because it brings guests up a path towards which may or may not be a worthy sidebar for their trip. In contrast, on the rare occasions I do come across guests at the Upper Pond, they too are floored by its serenity.

The Upper Pond is accessible via a short, easy path through the woods; adding perhaps 3 minutes to your walk but many more if you stay to look! Two docks stretch out over clear, calm water while massive trees and bushes curtain the pond; almost completely muffling the distant sound of children and families on the exhibit trail. Aptly positioned, several wooden benches beckon from the shaded vegetation, overlooking the peaceful waters. On the other side of the pond stands a weathered bird house; its perfect reflection in the water is an ode to the tranquility this spot offers. The trail parallels the edge of the water, leading from one dock to the other, delivering guests back down to the marsh boardwalk through a field of tall grasses and wildflowers.

Finding frogs, watching fish, listening to the birds, enjoying the breeze, are only a few of the activities I find myself doing every time I’m up there. This part of the Science Center is a hidden gem for a family photo, a peaceful spot for meditation or yoga, or the perfect rest stop for simply enjoying the sights and sounds of a thriving ecosystem. Next time you're visiting the Science Center, don't skimp your trip; make sure to at least walk by the Upper Pond, I'm sure you'll see (or hear) something beautiful!

August 1, 2016

The Habitat You Drive Through

By Danica Melone, Marketing Intern

I find it curious that I never before considered how and why I saw animals running through roadways, often becoming roadkill. To some extent I could sense it was partly from human encroachment on lands where the animals once thrived without limitations. However, this consideration came full circle while listening to one of our naturalists speak about opossums and how the species have been using highways as a habitat for some time. Well, sort of.

It all begins with the advent of the automobile. At that time, meager roadways existed for steam-powered trolleys and other such transportation, but there was nothing like the main arterial highways of today. As the automobile picked up in popularity, the need for roads led to development of newly constructed highway systems. These highways, and other roadways, became attractive to animals such as opossums for a slew of reasons. On the edges, roads offer minimal vegetation, almost field-like (picture the unkempt lawn-length grass that small rodents and animals can hide in and scavenge for seeds.) For many New England highways, just past the long grasses is usually the forest wall. This is where, on the edge of the forest and beside the highway, that animals like the opossum have found a fitting habitat where they’re able to find food sources: berries and seeds, insects, saplings, and the herbivores like meadow voles or white footed mice, who feed on this vegetation. Unfortunately, we often find the animals living here as roadkill.

The opossum, an omnivorous scavenger also facing human encroachment in its habitat, began moving north after the advent of the automobile, into southern and central New Hampshire. Though not all of the New Hampshire opossum population resides next to a highway, many opossum find it a rewarding habitat for the food supply, forest shelters, and living space. So why haven’t opossums continued moving north and over the White Mountains? Looking at photos of an opossum, you may notice that their protection from the cold and wind is rather limited. The exposed ears, tail, and feet of opossums are threatened by the cold temperatures and are susceptible to frostbite even in the southern part of the state. It’s clear that opossums, North America’s only marsupial species (like a koala or kangaroo), are not well-suited to the climate in New Hampshire and thus hints at the concept of this species utilizing roadway systems as a habitat over the past century.

For me, a commuter driving the highways of New Hampshire for over an hour in total each day, I began noticing the breadth and frequency of species near the highway - both alive and deceased. I noted that besides the opossums, I saw other wildlife near the roadway usually for one presumable purpose: food. For instance, the raptors circling above I had initially assumed may be there for the hot air rising from the pavement, but I soon began questioning “well, why this hot air mass over that hot air mass?” Further down the highway I watched as two vultures tugged a white-tailed deer from the break-down lane into the drainage ditch. This was my answer; there’s a constant food supply here for everyone sharing the habitat. From the driver’s seat in my hatchback I could watch butterflies and other insects buzzing around a laurel bush positioned in the median of the highway; squirrels scurrying out of sight with their seeds; white-tailed deer grazing in the tall grasses; and two crows pulling unrecognizable carrion from a rumble strip.

Remarkably, these animals are able to accommodate changes to their habitat, accepting that fast moving cars are a part of daily life whether it is noise, pollution, or the moments when our cars become top-of-the-food-chain predators, running down these critters. Though it may be too late to reverse the industrial revolution, or for that matter, reverse the damage the industrial revolution brought unto our environment and society, it is not too late to consider the future. I find it both intriguing and humbling to consider this during my long commutes: the impact on the future generations of these species that are adapting to their highway habitat.

Here are some interesting topics to think about if you also have a long commute:
  • Did you see a live animal? Wonder: does it seem to be living nearby, or running for its life to never come back? Does it have babies? Could it have babies? What’s the lifespan of the animal (and possible babies) if it’s using a highway habitat? At what rate is it ingesting chemicals from cars and air pollution (like windshield washer fluid)? And the list goes on…. 
  • Did you see a dead animal? Wonder: If it’s an opossum, which have pouches for their newborns, could it have babies that were also killed? How does the death of an adult and/or baby opossums affect the opossum population? How does its/their death affect the ecosystem where it once lived?
Feel free to leave any questions or comments at the bottom and I’ll answer as soon as I can, and as well I can!

Night-time driving tip: When watching for animals at night, chances are when they hear your car they’ll turn their head towards the noise. This gives you the opportunity of catching the split second they are looking into your headlights, and the light is bouncing off their tapetums. The tapetum is a reflective sheet covering the back of the eyeball in most animals, like a dog when you take their picture. The reason we can’t see this reflection during the day time is because tapetums exist to help animals see better at night by amplifying the light source. Ultimately when that picture of your dog or cat is developed and he has red eyes, this is because the flash, combined with the effects of the tapetum, illuminated blood vessels in his eyes. Therefore, watching for the flash of your high beams off an animal’s tapetums is a great way of identifying if an animal is up ahead before it’s too late.

New Hampshire Rocks

By Danica Melone, Marketing Intern

Can you name all of New Hampshire’s common rock types- besides granite? Geology may not be the most thrilling topic you studied in grade school, but it most definitely holds some eye-opening information about our past, present, and future that you might have overlooked as a kid. If you’ve ever visited the Science Center’s New Hampshire Geology exhibit, you might have discovered more about what rocks offer us humans besides the Old Man of the Mountain (God rest his soul.) If you haven’t seen it- here’s an article about why the New Hampshire Geology Exhibit is the bee’s knees.

To begin, the Geology exhibit is located near the amphitheater, making it either a treat for the end of the trip, or easily accessible to visit at the beginning for a few minutes. You’ll notice upon approaching, a long stone pathway from the entrance stretches to the back of the open-air exhibit. The cobbled path features small placards from start to finish, marking the path with a literal timeline of Earth’s existence, based on information scientists have gathered from rocks! Toward the end, the last foot and half, you’ll find yourself completely in awe at the visualization of just how much occurred in the last couple thousand years… like humans beginning to walk the Earth!

There are other interactive displays for guests to learn about the many important aspects of rocks. There is an interactive display board defining numerous uses for rocks in New Hampshire; massive rocks, or mountains in this example, are integral in developing weather and climate patterns in the region, while smaller rocks may make great homes for cliff swallows and other species. In all, the display helps adults and children visualize the importance of rocks from big mountains to small as sand.

The last, and more popular part of the exhibit, is the native New Hampshire rock garden. A small sign identifies the native rock types while almost a dozen small boulders protrude from the soil behind it. This is a hot spot for family photo action; most kids (and hey, adults too) love climbing on the rocks to look silly for a picture. However, the rock garden is a great opportunity to look closely at these native rocks' characteristics. Regardless of your reason for visiting the New Hampshire Geology exhibit, you are sure to exit with a stronger appreciation for the purpose rocks serve in New Hampshire.

July 18, 2016

Be Nice to Your Ants!

By Danica Melone, Marketing Intern

I love finding a good reason why something is useful to the immediate environment, and so it was during an Insect Adventure program for a school group when a volunteer started in with a tidbit on ants that stopped me in my tracks. While children frolicked, catching field insects, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center Docent volunteer, Judy, discussed the basic importance of ants: they dig holes in the ground, which helps aerate soil and water plants. In my head I thought, “Wow, I hate those crawly things, but at least they make a great contribution to our environment!”

Little black ant
I initially saw this as a small silver lining to the presence of such insects; I absolutely abhor the feeling of an ant crawling across my foot while doing dishes in my kitchen. Regardless of those past encounters, I began searching for more ways they are important in the Science Center’s Arthur C. Unsworth Memorial Library (the staff’s repertoire of fantastic reference books and educational materials) where I was stunned to find a publication called Wonders of the Ant World, written by Hans Heinz Ewers. The book did such a great job both personifying and justifying the presence of these insects that I was unable to put the book down that night.

It’s probably safe to say a high majority of the human population dislikes the presence of house ants (this blog focuses on common black house ants and little black ants, in particular) since we often see them scurrying in and about our kitchen, getting into pantries, and scarfing away sugary goods. Beside the fact that ants are well-known thieves, they offer humans little else to be interested in; they are neither beautiful to look at like a butterfly nor is there anything humorous or novel about them. Thus, come early spring, hardware and grocery stores stock their shelves with ample ant poison so that we may eradicate them in our homes.

Well, won’t you be surprised to know ants are more like humans than we may think. An ant’s lifestyle is very similar to our own, starting with “ants are the cleanest of all creatures” (Ewers 20). Ants are so clean, in fact, that my research in our library noted that “The American woman of the cultured class is almost painfully particular as to cleanliness,” going on to reference how in Japanese customs, individuals remove their shoes before entering their houses, and that even the Dutch “pride themselves upon the absolute cleanliness of their homes” but “all the cleanliness of the Japanese, the Dutch or Americans is as nothing to that among ants” (Ewers 20). All species of ants are specially equipped with many biological functions that aid them in the cleaning process, such as comb-like features on their forelegs. These features help ants to maintain their personal hygiene and also keep a pristine nest.
See live ants at Life Underground
Nests have chambers of corresponding importance, just like humans, such as a main living space or sleeping quarters. Cleaning the nest, like we would our home, is a strong-held value for ants, or perhaps more so. When it comes to any refuse inside the nest, ants use an innovative, organized means to immediately remove and bury waste in a “special dump, sometimes in the far corner of the nest, but usually outside of it” (Ewers 21). Additionally, Ewers notes a unique trait in ants, that “even more remarkable, the ants bury their dead” as soon as they can, a rare trait in the animal kingdom (Ewers 21). Though ants may be personified through many, many more of their traits, like playing games with each other using “grains of wheat or seeds,” ants should also be thought of as integral player in agricultural practices (Ewers 21).

In many other countries, the presence of ant colonies in orchards can greatly aid in decreasing the population of fruit- or veggie-harming insects. In fact, a single colony of ants has the ability to eliminate upwards of 100,000 insects each day, a high majority of those insects being the harmful ones (Ewers 11). I was stunned to read that “Germany is the only country which has passed a law protecting the ant” (Ewers 10). This is because, in Germany, and other countries like China and Malaysia, if there is a caterpillar infestation in an orchard, farmers may hang ant colonies in each orchard tree and will then draw a thick ring of sticky tar around the trunk of the tree, ultimately preventing ants from crossing the tar. In America, our most similar practice to this has been by using ant colonies to “fight the destructive boll-weevil on the cotton plants” (Ewers 11).

The agricultural history of using ants to aid in farming practices was not the worst idea, compared to that, say, of the advent of using DDT as a pesticide. Ants are an incredible agricultural tool, able to “stir up the soil, plowing and harrowing better than any men can,” and should therefore be thoughtfully reconsidered as quite an underestimated, yet important, insect (Ewers 12). Despite mankind’s natural intuition to dislike the ant due to its tendency to turn up in places where we don’t want it, and my own nauseating reaction to feeling an ant scuttle over skin, I was inspired by Ewers interpretation of an ant’s importance and tremendous similarities to the human race. If you find yourself also questioning an ant’s abilities and similarities to humans, feel free to leave your questions, there is an awful lot of information not included here that I found just as intriguing!