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June 27, 2009


Cheryl Rofer

Hm. Not pollen, as the Evening News has it.

You've joined the American West!

Our cottonwoods do this every year.


There was me thinking it was the "Building Better Britain" report...

belle le triste

The ants fly every year -- sometimes two or three times -- in north london: it's routine ant-mating style (they're males who haven't founds the queen) and it's generally round about now, on a hot and heavy day... What you generally see is most of is hundred of crestfallen failed ant-suitors pounding the pavement, no longer airborne, shedding their wings (and tiny ant-hopes of a genetic future)


My dad used to claim that you could collect those ants, press them into a cake and eat them (specifically, he claimed that people used to do this in Zambia). On the other hand, he never showed the remotest inclination to do so himself, and he did occasionally like to take the piss, so I think he may have simply been trying to fool me into eating ants.


Also, there's real flies in Garibaldi biscuits...


Bounty bars? Chopped soap. And that's true!

Richard J

True fact: The machine that puts the ridges in the top of Mars Bars is designed to make sure that no two bars have the same pattern.


Readers may be interested to know that the "they put drugs in the rations to stop you getting the horn" army myth is still going strong, at least 90 years since its first sighting during the Great War.
(This is not related to the "antimalarial drugs/NAPS tablets make you sterile" myth, which can be traced back to Japanese propaganda in the Second World War.)

Richard J

Has the alleged substance changed, or is it still bromide?


No specific additive is alleged, probably because no modern squaddie has ever heard of bromide.


Update: Sorry to have ever doubted you, Dad.

Termites are considered a delicacy in most parts of Africa. The queen is considered to be an exquisite dish and is often fed to children (Uganda and Zambia). The soldiers and the reproductive form are also eaten. Termites are fried in their own fat or steamed in banana leaves (Uganda). Fried or dried, they contain 32-36% protein... The most popular are the sexual winged forms of the large species (Macrotermitinae) which emerge from holes in their mounds after the first rains, often at night. They are collected in various ways. In urban areas, they are attracted to electric light and are trapped in receptacles of water placed under or near the light source. In rural areas, they are caught when emerging from the termite mounds. Attracted by the light of a grass torch, the termites are swept up with a broom into a dug-out hole. Another method is to build a tent-like structure of branches and leaves to cover some of the emergence holes. By closing the other emergence holes, the termites have to emerge from the holes in the tent structure, which has an opening on one side to which the flying termites are attracted by artificial light, sunlight or moonlight. Near this opening, a receptacle is placed to collect the termites. Osmaston (1951) mentions from Uganda a complicated structure of clay pipes constructed over the emergence holes and leading to the receptacle. He and several of my informants reported that drumming on the ground triggers certain termite species to emerge.

Soldiers from the larger species are also eaten. To extract them from the mounds, saliva-wetted grass blades are lowered into the shafts of opened termite mounds. In defence, the soldiers bite into the blades and are then subsequently stripped from the blades into a container. They can either be fried or pounded into a cake

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