Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Learning's From an ANT

Learning's From an ANT

An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.
Lao Tzu

“Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I was an ant, and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny.”
Jack Handy

“Though your enemy is the size of an ant, regard him as an elephant”
Danish Proverb


Black ants or carpenter ants are found in plenty where ever there is a hint of rotting wood or gaps in wooden structures.

Never stop dreaming. Follow the omens.
Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist.

Every grain of sand in this universe has a story to tell.


Every grain of sand in this universe has a experience to share.


Similarly I was recently sitting in my favorite news paper reading spot and observing the never ending energy of black ants. They were scurrying around running here and there, they were looking more busy than any manager I have met. An anomaly or a parallel thread started getting created in my mind, I started relating their actions to the actions of a six sensed human.

1) Ants greet every ant – DO WE?


I saw many ants greet each other or which ever ant crossed by, it was neither a gossip session nor were they in a un-conference mode, it was more like a handshake but in this case they shook their antennae or rubbed their antennae against each other.

How many of us greet fellow human beings on a daily basis be it a known colleague or a unknown human? I have seen people drop their head down to avoid conversation / to avoid eye contact. May be we must greet each other whenever appropriate and spread goodwill.

Scientific Reason: Ants can not converse they will communicate with each other with the chemical secretion called pheromones. When two ants meet they will secrete pheromones on the land so that other ants will follow the trail, some time tentacles(antennae) are used as visionary and auditory sensors depends upon the breed.

An forager ant that finds food marks a trail on the way back to the colony; this trail is followed by other ants, these ants then reinforce the trail when they head back with food to the colony. When the food source is exhausted, no new trails are marked by returning ants and the scent slowly dissipates. This behavior helps ants deal with changes in their environment. For instance, when an established path to a food source is blocked by an obstacle, the foragers leave the path to explore new routes. If an ant is successful, it leaves a new trail marking the shortest route on its return. Successful trails are followed by more ants, reinforcing better routes and gradually finding the best path.

Ants use pheromones for more than just making trails. A crushed ant emits an alarm pheromone that sends nearby ants into an attack frenzy and attracts more ants from further away. Several ant species even use "propaganda pheromones" to confuse enemy ants and make them fight among themselves. MORE

2) Ants carry every dead ant back – DO WE?


If an ant met a watery grave or was unfortunate to be showered with love by a slipper, its body was taken care by members of their tribe. I saw several dead ant bodies being transported from the accident spot, the dead body was moved to several locations and meetings were held over the dead bodies similar to a postmortem in human terms. Then in 5 - 10 minutes you will see the ant body missing.

I was surprised to see the level of responsibility and care taking abilities in a small ant – caring for another ant. How many of us stop to help people involved in an accident and hurt. How many of us in the advanced stages of humanization take a undertakers job. May be we must care for the injured, hurt and the unable whenever a chance comes our way.

Scientific Reason: In addition to defense against predators, ants need to protect their colonies from pathogens. Some worker ants maintain the hygiene of the colony and their activities include undertaking or necrophory, the disposal of dead nest-mates.Oleic acid has been identified as the compound released from dead ants that triggers necrophoric behavior.

A few (like Atta) have special chambers for this, but most carry the dead nest mates a short distance away from the nest entrance and deposit them in "refuse" piles. Corpse removal possibly evolved as a way of avoiding such fungal or perhaps bacterial invasions of the colony.

And in some cases, the ants bring the dead ants back and home to eat, because they're rich in protein. But I think that's specific to the one type of ant, rather than general ant behavior.

Picture credits 1 2 3


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