Leiningen Versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson

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In "Leiningen Versus the Ants," what defensive strategies do the plantation workers use to defend against the ants?

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In the classic short story "Leiningen Versus the Ants," a plantation owner and his employees desperately defend themselves against an enormous army of ants. They employ several innovative strategies to try to prevent the ants from killing them and ravaging the plantation.

The first defensive strategy is a horseshoe-shaped ditch, 12 feet across, that completely surrounds the plantation. By means of a dam, Leiningen and his men are able to fill the shallow ditch with water from the river and,in this way, prevent the ants from reaching them. It works the same way as "a moat encircling a medieval city." The men also cut off branches that overhang the river so that the ants cannot climb across them. However, there are so many ants that the ants behind are able to climb over the drowned bodies of the ants in front. The ants also use leaves as rafts to get across the water.

Leiningen and his men have also constructed another moat behind the water moat. This one is smaller and built of concrete. It circles the various buildings of the plantation. When the ants get past the water, this one is filled with petrol and set on fire. This works for a time in keeping the ants away as long as they can keep petrol flowing into the moat. However, their supply is limited, and a pipe the petrol flows through clogs up.

The final tactic is to dam the river and flood the entire plantation. This Leiningen himself does at great personal risk. The strategy works: the plantation is inundated with water, and those still left alive are saved.

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Leiningen's main defense against the ants is a moat, designed to fill and empty with water to drown and wash away the ants. Instead of just being filled with water, it can be opened and closed, so the ants won't fill it with their bodies.

...by opening the dam, he was able to fling an imposing girdle of water, a huge quadrilateral with the river as its base, completely around the plantation, like the moat encircling a medieval city. Unless the ants were clever enough to build rafts. they had no hope of reaching the plantation, Leiningen concluded.
(Stephenson, "Leiningen Versus the Ants," classicshorts.com)

However, through their enormous number, the ants are able to form bridges of a sort with their bodies, stuck together and drowned. He also uses gasoline sprayers both to set large patches of earth alight, to burn the ants, and to flood the moats when it is empty to burn the ants before they can make it over. The plantation workers use shovels to throw dirt into the ants to scatter them, and uses other canals to reroute the ants into expendable fields.