The moment I saw it I wondered what it was. I asked Mangal what we need to do. He suggested we spray some pesticide but I was not willing and planned to seek an expert’s advice.
It was a like a cocoon created a swarming group of red ants with the help of newly arrived tender leaves of mango. An art installation created by scores of red ants.
These are the same red ants much popular among tribals of Bastar in Indian state Chhattisgarh who make Chapda chutney from it and British cook Gordon Ramsey during his visit in 2010 to make documentary loved them. He termed chapda chutney the world’s best chutney.
He clicked a couple of pics and messaged them to experts in my group.
I approached Ramesh Khaladkar, a postgraduate in agri science and an agripreneur and he told me that they were commonplace in the red soil of the Konkan region.
“Do you see any damage due to the Ants?”, he asked and went on to suggest: “If not, please do not disturb them. Actually speaking, the Ants are very helpful in controlling some pests.”
According to him, the ants make their passage from one tree to the other not disturbing human beings or cattle passing beneath.
Botanist and water conservationist Dr Ajit Gokhale explained it was a nest of red biting ants called as ombil (ओंबिल) in Marathi. “Their sting has formic acid and they keep the tree sanitized for some pests. Not vicious though their sting can be a bit painful. They are also thought to pollinate the flowers accidentally. The chutney made out of them is bit sour and high in folic acid and other B group vitamins. Good to have them unless they are too many and too close to comfort,” he added.