Everyone keeps asking if the ants actually ate their way through the fiber optic cable and I do not know the answer. What is certain is that they chewed through the outer casing and caused enough damage to knock out TV, phone and Internet service to my house: the Verizon triple no-play.
I also know that it takes about five years for ants to accomplish such a task, because the same thing happened in June 2009.
The box housing the cable splice that brings FiOS into my home is located across the street about five feet up on a utility pole. When the Verizon technician opened the box it was filled with hundreds of ants (I had actually forgotten about the earlier ant episode, but he clearly expected them to be there). And when he shooed away enough of the critters to get a look inside, the red glow of a stripped fiber optic cable was clearly visible.
The technician says the ants are attracted to a jelly-like substance used in the casing.
If you're thinking that sounds implausible, here's a paper (.pdf) that documents the problem of ants interacting with telecommunications equipment. Be forewarned that some of the pictures are gross.
That box wasn't the first place the technician looked to find the source of the problem, due in large part to my faulty memory. Five years from now when another bunch of ants have had their fill -- I'll save us both some time.