Solve-it #24: The Case of Too Many Ants

featuring Nina chase & MAx Decker


“Well, I knew there would be lots of uncles at our family reunion,” Max told his cousin Nina. “But I never guessed there would be this many ants!”

Nina laughed. “ants come to every picnic.” she pointed towards a nearby table laden with pans and bowls. “but at least all the food is protected. before we went over to the pool area, I noticed that every single dish was entirely covered and–”

Her words were cut off when Anthony. their eight-year old cousin. ran up. “Somebody stole ant farm!” her told Max.

Nina gasped. “You brought ANTS to a picnic?” Anthony nodded. “I just got that ant farm for my birthday. all these ants were between two glass sheets with sand and stuff. you could watch how they lived. I Wanted to show everybody after we ate.”

“So when did you last see it?” Max asked him. “I put it on a bench over there by the food table, so I could go play soccer” as anthony gestured, a large woman approached.

“Hi, Aunt Edna,” Nina said. “Are we going to eat soon” “sure are! I’m going to get everything organized now.” she moved closer to the table. “Mercy!” she cried.

Max, Nina, and anthony hurried over and saw her quickly cover a green dish with silver foil. her plump face as flushed. “this bowl is full of ants! how in the world did they ever get past all that foil? I had the top completely sealed.”

“There’s my farm!” Anthony happily cried, diving under the table. but his smile was missing when he reappeared. “all the sand and ants are gone!”

As Max checked the ant farm, Nina lifted the foil from Aunt edna’s dish and saw dozens of ants scurrying through the sand, peas, and carrots.

“Yuck!” she cried. covering it again.

“Somebody opened Anthony’s and farm and dumped the stuff in aunt edna’s bowl!” Max said.

“I can’t think why anybody would do such a thing,” the woman said. “but while I was over with the other adults, I glanced this way often to keep an eye on the food. I saw Zack, Jan, and peter were near this food table, all at different times, but I couldn’t see what they were doing.”

“Let’s talk to them,” Max told Nina.

“Well, what’s the big deal about ants?” Zack Asked. “We’re outside– they’re all over the place.”

“But somebody dumped Anthony’s ant farm into Aunt Edna’said bowl,” Nina said. “so both the farm and the food are ruined.”

“Anthony probably did it himself,” Zack told her. “Mom says he hates vegetables. That’d be a way to get rid of a whole bowl of them. I was over by that table because” I was Putting my Mom’s Chocolate cake on it.”

When the cousins talked to jan, she shrugged. “Aunt Edna is the world’s worst cook,” Jan said. “I’d be tempted to dump something in any bowl she brought to a picnic. Yes, I was over by the table but I didn’t ever notice Anthony’s ant farm.

I’m glad I didn’t! I hate bugs. I just grabbed a strawberry from my Mom’s fruit salad.”

“I sure didn’t do it,” Peter told them minutes later. “Sure, I was near the food table. Guess I’ll have to confess that i took a cookie, too. but I only opened my mother’s baking pan. I knew she had made chocolate chip cookies, so I sneaked one.” “I think I know who dumped the ants,” Nina said. “Me, too,” Max agreed.

Whom do Nina and Max suspect and why?