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Audio excerpt

Ants go marching

For an audio excerpt that brings us into the middle of the visit with the ants in the plantation, play the mp3 file on this page.

To set the scene…

I find myself standing in a silent eucalyptus plantation as a guest of the Brazilian forest industry. I am there along with a dozen other guests to learn about an innovative, less toxic way of eradicating leaf-cutting ants.


On the one hand, I am encouraged by corporate efforts to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in pulp and paper production. On the other hand, I am awed by the ingenuity of these ants. They farm, they manage waste and they are giving some of the world’s largest commodity producers a run for their money.


As I begin to judge the corporate eradication of this sophisticated species, I am reminded of my own efforts to eradicate ants, specifically the carpenter ants eating my sister’s roof in Northern Ontario. In this instance, instead of collaborating with peers to improve pest management practice, I illegally smuggle ant poison across the border.


So, who am I to wonder at the absurdity of warring with leaf-cutting ants while shifting large volumes of pulp around the world to make toilet paper so we billions of humans can wipe our rear ends?


In Ants go marching I explore how we might imagine ourselves into a more evolved state, in the spirit of the UN yet highly functional, where we live alongside other species and thrive.

Ants go marching - draft excerpt - B. Lorraine Smith
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A eucalyptus plantation near São Paulo, Brazil where B. Lorraine Smith and other forest industry observers learning about more effective, less toxic ways to eradicate leaf-cutting ants.
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