What to get for the mom upon whose survival the colony depends?

Happy Mother’s Day! I’d like to wish my mom, Sandra Johnson, a very happy mother’s day. I figure the best way to say thanks is to chase the bizarre sense of humor we share down the rabbit hole … or in this case, ant colony. This is my Sunday column for the May 12, 2013 Hibbing Daily Tribune. A staged reading of this piece aired on Northern Community Radio‘s “Between You and Me” Saturday morning, which you can find in the archives.

What to get for the mom upon whose survival the colony depends?
By Aaron J. Brown

The relationship between mother and child is one of the most important in humankind. This same love is found in nature, but sometimes it gets a little confusing.

ANT JANE: Hi Ant Betty!

ANT BETTY: Oh, hello Ant Jane! Here, have some food.

(sounds of regurgitation)

ANT JANE: Mmm, thank you. Is that beetle? It’s terrific. Say, Ant Betty, have you seen what’s on the calendar?

ANT BETTY: You mean the biological enzymes I secrete out my metasoma. Don’t remind me.

ANT JANE: That’s right. It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. What are we going to get for Queen Mom?

ANT BETTY: I don’t know. I was thinking maybe the leg of a grasshopper.

ANT JANE: Oh, come on. She has more legs of grasshoppers than an actual grasshopper.


ANT JANE: No, no, no. I really think we need to do more this year, to show Queen Mom that we care. She did just give birth via thelytokous parthenogenesis, which guarantees that she is a single mom raising a family of several thousand.

ANT BETTY: Well, did you talk to Ant Suzy? She’s usually in charge of this kind of thing.

ANT JANE: She’s not responding to my pheromone messages. I’ve been leaving them for her every hour or so. I think a bird ate her.

ANT BETTY: OK, so what do Ant Mary, Jenny and Marge think? They should be in on this, too. And Ant Julie. And Ant Sally. Ant Shelly. Ant Diane. Ant Polly. And all those new Ants, all those Madisons and Mackenzies. It’s about time they stepped up.

ANT JANE: I’ll be honest, Ant Betty. The new ants, they don’t understand how important it is to honor Queen Mom on mother’s day. We’re the oldest. We were in the first batch of eggs after she set out on her own, mating in mid-flight with our dear departed father who was 1/10th her size before he detached and expired, leaving his genitals behind. That was hard on mom.

ANT BETTY: I know. It’s just getting more and more difficult to show her we really care. I mean, she has everything she needs. We regurgitate food into her mandibles and use our faces to clean up her waste materials. We move her around when it rains or when that giant digs up the tunnels. She doesn’t like candles. She can’t read. She’s allergic to salt. I mean, that eliminates a lot of gift ideas.

ANT JANE: Have we thought about maybe getting her …

ANT BETTY (interrupting): Shhhhhhh! Here she comes.

ANT JANE: I mean, have we thought about digging another tunnel to store that dead worm we found. That thing is massive.

ANT BETTY: Hi, Queen Mom!

QUEEN MOM: Hellllloooooooo! How are you today, girls?

ANT JANE: Wonderful, Queen Mom. It’s good to see you moving around the colony.

QUEEN MOM: Yes, well, I’ve been developing sort of a muffin thorax this winter and thought I’d better work it off before it gets warm.

ANT BETTY: Awww, Queen Mom. You look great.

ANT JANE: Yes, Queen Mom. Don’t worry about all that. (teasing) Drones like a sturdy queen.

QUEEN MOM: Oh, dear. DRONES! I am so over drones. Give an ant two weeks to live and one thing to do and just try to get anything done around the house. It’s impossible!


Listen, girls. I know you’ve been plotting something for Mother’s Day and I’m here to tell you, don’t worry about me. The thought alone means so much. I’m quite happy with everything I have. All I ask is that when I die in 2-5 years that you each spontaneously generate reproductive organs and become queens of your own colony some day.

ANT BETTY: Oh, Queen Mom. That would be so awesome. I mean, not the part where you die, but the other part.

ANT JANE: Yeah, I’d really like to take this ovipositor out for a spin. See what the boys think.

QUEEN MOM: You will someday, dears. You will. One thing, though. If you really want to do something, I sure could go for some leg of grasshopper right now.

ANT BETTY: I’ve got some, here in my lower stomach.

(regurgitating sounds)

QUEEN MOM: Delicious! I love you, girls.

ANTS BETTY AND JANE: We love you, too, mom!

Aaron J. Brown is an author and community college instructor from the Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts 91.7 KAXE’s Great Northern Radio Show on public stations.


  1. You and I along with everyone else are blessed to have or have had Mom’s to be thankful for Aaron.

    One wonders what’ll happen to this special day once Minnesota’s GLBT laws kick-in. I suspect Mother’s Day and Father’s Day will give way to Parent 1 and Parent 2 Days. Just no way Jim or Joe can be Mom. Or hey, next session they’ll probably redefine the word Mom. That’s it!

    Anyway, cute story!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.