Each and every one of us has had an encounter with ants, and I’m sure pain was involved; maybe a little, maybe a lot! Ants in India are like freeloading family members. They come when there’s plenty to eat and disappear when the kitchen is empty.
These little insects have been gifted with muscles akin to those of Hercules, and a brain that does not know fear – a crazy combination that comes neatly packed in small and extra small sizes.
Red usually spells danger and I’m sure most of us have had that irritating, excruciating painful experience when caught standing in the vicinity of a red ant colony. I, personally, have had many such experiences.
Photo credit: Vineeth Vincent
It just takes a fraction of a second to realize what is happening, but when the second and third bite is followed up by the 4th , 5th , 6th …..15th……23rd, that’s when one feels new levels of pain!
They may be tiny, but did you know that a male leafcutter ant can lift almost 850 times its own body weight? 850! In comparison it would be like Arnold Schwarzenegger carrying a Sperm whale and a Humpback whale on his back, walking back to his cabin in the woods.
That’s a bizarre comparison, but I hope you get an idea of what a leafcutter ant is capable of! Now for another crazy fact! Ants are born with this strength, and guess what… this strength does not wither away with age. It remains constant until the end! Wow!!
If the strength of the ant didn’t impress you, maybe the dark side of this little thing will stir up a few emotions.
What is slavery and why am I talking about it here in an article on ants? Slavery is when one being is physically owned by another, and some ants believe in slavery! A few species of ants have been known to raid neighboring ant colonies only to ‘acquire’ new slaves in the form of eggs or larvae. This ‘stealing’ has a scientific term – ‘dulosis’, and the ants that practice this are called ‘slave-making ants’. Fact – these ants are incapable of feeding and looking after themselves in the absence of slave ants!
Their size and the fact that they eat just about anything, allows them to hitchhike anywhere. This is the reason why they are found on six continents in the world today! The Argentine ant can be found in more than fifteen countries, including isolated islands.
Keep in mind, ants have been around for a very long time now; so long, that they have actually witnessed a mass extinction event in their lifetime. The ants have my respect!
Edited by Dominic D’Cruz