A social structure that designates its older females as warriors instead of its younger males certainly bears closer scrutiny. Ants are among the hardest workers in the animal kingdom. They’re organized with a highly functional and specialized workforce. Their perseverance alone would put most human workers to shame.
Have you ever noticed how quickly every ant in a colony will diligently get to work when disaster strikes and their mound is disturbed? They don’t fall into depression or accept defeat. They keep on building and working towards their goals.
Another quality that makes them so efficient is that they are such excellent communicators. Much of this is done through the use of pheromones, chemical signals picked up by the ants’ antennae. But they don’t just let one another know about danger. They also share information about what work needs to be done and where food can be found. If one ant finds out that your kitchen is a great spot for dining on sweets, then she’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and before you know it you’re overrun with ants. And all without the benefit of Twitter.
All worker ants are female which may explain their superior communication skills. Males can be distinguished by their two sets of wings. Queens, while being larger, also have wings which are discarded after mating.
Ants are preyed upon mostly by amphibians, birds and spiders. Bats usually catch the male ants in flight. In my yard, flickers have to be the ants’ worse enemy. These are woodpecker-like birds that have a special long tongue similar to the one anteaters have. They’re able to dig holes in the ground and catch numerous ants, pupae (the cocoon from which adults emerge) and eggs with this raspy tongue. The holes are everywhere in my lawn.
Ants survive Nova Scotia winters by going deeper underground or into dead trees where they receive some protection from the cold. Worldwide, they’re found on every continent except Antarctica.
No one preaches better than the ant and she says nothing.
~ Benjamin Franklin