“Look at all the spiders in the meadow today,” said Marjorie. “I have counted the spider’s legs. He has eight legs. So he cannot be an insect.”
“Two, four, six, eight – you are right. A spider does have eight legs. Spiders live in the grass jungles with insects. I thought they were insects,” said Bruce.
“Next time we go to the library let’s get a book about spiders,” said Marjorie
“Yes!” cried Bruce. “Then we can find out what family spiders belong to, and if they lay eggs too. Maybe spiders take better care of their babies than insect animals do.”
“Why look,” said Cathleen. “This spider is eating a grasshopper. so they eat insects That must be why they spin their webs in the grass.
Oh no -, here are two ants caught in a spider web. Does one have a red spot on it?”
“Do you think a spider has eaten Busy Black Ant?” asked Marjorie, I cannot find her. Can you?”
“Here she is,” called Cathleen. “How slow she walks along. Poor Busy Black Ant must be very cold.”
“Look!” cried Bruce. “Busy Black Ant seems to be afraid. The ant tries to run down one little path, then she turns and goes down another little path. Busy Black Ant must be lost!”
Busy Black Ant was lost. She had gone too far into the grass jungles. She was such a wise little black ant, but now she was lost. She could tell Tidy Black Ant the names of many insect cousins, if she could find her way home. Soon the leaves were falling. They were like mountains for Busy to crawl over. How brown the grass blades were turning. The only flowers left were a few purple daisies.
All of a sudden the sky seemed very dark. There was the noise of many wings flying.
Busy looked to see a swarm of Monarch butterflies fly down. She was glad to see some butterflies that she knew again.
“We are flying to the south where it is warm in the winter. There are many flower cups there, and it will soon be too cold here,” said the Monarch butterflies. “Why are you not at home with the other little black ants, Busy?”
“I cannot find my way home,” said Busy Black Ant.
“We are sorry that you don’t have wings. The you could fly to the warm South with us.”
“I only want to find my way home now. Ants just stay here in the ground when winter comes. Are all the pretty butterflies going away?” asked Busy Black Ant.
“Oh no. Most of the butterflies will sleep here this winter. We hope you find your ant hill,” said the Monarch butterflies. Then off they flew on their long journey to the southland, waving goodbye with their pretty orange and black wings.
Busy Black Ant came to an anthill. It looked very much like home. Busy ran up to the door and touched feelers with the guard. “Go away!” said the ant guard at the door. “You do not live here.” Feeling very sad, poor Busy went on. She was so hungry and cold. How she did want to find her own home.
She saw a butterfly hanging on to some wood. The butterfly was crawling into a wide crack in the wood. “Could you help me find my way home?” asked Busy Black Ant.
(Watercolor painting to the butterfly hibernating Red Admiral, Vanessa atlanta)
“Go away!” said the butterfly. “I am too sleepy. I am going to sleep for the winter.”
Butterflies were going to sleep, crickets, and grasshoppers were busy laying eggs. Caterpillars were spinning cocoons, and no one wanted to help Busy Black Ant find her way home. The Woolly Bear caterpillar was not making a cocoon. He was hurrying down the path by Busy.
“Oh Woolly Bear, I cannot find my way home. Have you seen any ant hills, Woolly Bear?” asked Busy.
“I have seen many,” said Woolly Bear. “Was your home near a white stone?”
“Oh yes, it was,” cried Busy Black Ant.
“The hill near the white stone is just around the corner near the thistle plants,” said Wooly Bear. “Goodbye. I am going to find a place to sleep too.”
Busy Black Ant tried to run all the way home. But her six little legs were so stiff and cold that she could only crawl along very slowly.
At Busy’s home, Tidy Black Ant was very sad. She thought Busy was not coming home at all. The little ants were getting ready for the winter. Some were storing away some of the last green leaves. Others were bringing in caterpillar meat.
(Picture of ants working at the ant hill)
Tidy was helping to carry in some honey cows. They were being put on plant roots underground. They drank juice from the roots all winter.
Tidy wished that she could always stay in the hill now. She would like to take care of the queen of the ants, or the eggs that she laid, or be a nurse for the baby ants. She did not care to be outside without Busy Black Ant for company.
All the work was done at last. Tidy Black Ant thought she would take one more look out to see if Busy Black Ant was coming. There was something strange down the path. Tidy ran out to see what it was. It was a black ant. She touched feelers with the ant. It was! It was Busy Black Ant. Busy had come home at last. But she was so cold and hungry that she could not walk any further.
Tidy Black Ant put her mouth up to Busy’s mouth. She gave her food from her storehouse stomach this way. Then she picked Busy up very carefully, and carried her home.
Marjorie, Bruce, and Cathleen were so glad that Busy found her home. They knew that Busy would have a fine time telling Tidy, and the other ants all about their cousin insects. The children were going to go home and tell Aunt all that they had discovered watching little Busy, and Tidy Black Ant, and all the other insects.