Saturday, May 2, 2009

In Praise of Ants!!!!!

More than birds, rain, or melting snow to me the true signal that of Spring has returned is seeing these marvellous tiny and miraculous creatures back at work. With the warm weather and bright sunshine outside, I feel the need to praise and celebrate the return of ants!

Check out my top ten reasons to love the world's most diverse, wondrous and altruistic organisms - ants. Plus – for people of faith ants are praised in traditional native teachings, the Bible, the Quran. These traditional teachings are posted here too.

10. Ants are cute. Their variety of colours, wiggly little antennae and love of honey and sweets. What’s not to love?

9. We have little to fear from ants. While it is true that a few species of ants become irate when their nests are attacked and bite, sting or spray chemicals in self-defense, very few species are poisonous and these stings are rarely fatal, usually only dangerous to hypersensitive people. We have much more to fear from venomous spiders, who are predatory and use their venom to paralyze or kill prey. 20 species of spiders have venom toxic to humans, in quantities that can kill in a single bite. They live in almost all parts of the world except those that are coldest.

8. Ants are nice Ants live in colonies, can communicate and they work as a team for the collective benfit of their community. Ants behave just plain nice to each other. They share information and teach each other how to be better ants. At the University of Bristol, ants placed along a tabletop foraged for food. Rather than selfishly keeping the hoard for themselves they returned to guide other ants. Time and again, followers trailed behind leaders, darting this way and that along the route, presumably to memorize landmarks. Once a follower got its bearings, it tapped the leader with its antennae, prompting the lesson to literally proceed to the next step. The ants were only looking for food, but the researchers said the careful way the leaders led followers -- thereby turning them into leaders in their own right -- marked the Temnothorax albipennis ant as the very first example of a non-human animal exhibiting teaching behaviour.

7. Ants make good role models Ants are polite, calm and this contributes to a very efficient strategy for dealing with crowd control and avoiding panic. If humans can learn to mimic ant’s behaviour we can vastly improve our ability to cope during mass evacuations. Martin Burd of Melbourne's Monash University, says Argentinian ants are apparently masters at managing stressful 'evacuations' by acting calmly and rationally. He built a series of barriers which he put in the ants' way, then scared them into seeking an exit. The barriers made them escape faster, and instead of panicking, the ants were calm and cooperative. "They were not trying to save their own lives but were behaving for the good of the group," he said.

6. Ants are interesting to observe; they also help us understand ourselves I’m not jut taking about ant farms, or watching a trail of leafcutter ants as they travel along ant-highways to their underground gardens. These are fascinating to watch, but scientific observation of ants is helping us better understand our own lives, behaviour and brain development. Ants are helping researchers discover whether changes in the brain and behaviour occur as a consequence of living in a particular type of environment. "I truly believe that this project will open the door for my next 20 years of science," said Dr. Reinberg, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at NYU and lead investigator for the Howard Hughes Institute of Medicine Collaborative Innovation Award.

5. Ants may be responsible for teaching humans to farm Farming is critical to human survival, almost every culture and every pocket of humanity has relied on farming for at least a portion of our food supply. It is doubtful that we would have survived without farming. But how did we learn to do it? Could it be early humans learned this skill by observing ants? Quite possibly. Research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says ants began farming some 50 million years ago, far before the first humans developed agriculture. Agriculture is rare in the animal world, aside form ants and humans only two other species do it: termites and bark beetles.

4. Ants protect humans Ants are scavengers, they clean up by eating dead plants and animals. You'll often see ants swarming around dead insects or even carrying them back to the anthill. This clean up helps remove bacteria from our surroundings and prevents sickness.

3. Ants can prevent human traffic accidents According to Audrey Dussutour, a University of Sydney entomologist who studies leafcutter ants, the ability of ants to organize their traffic activities is more sophisticated and efficient than humans. Studying how ants manage this could provide the basis for a system of driverless cars running on ant traffic algorithms. In recent years, scientists have turned ant traffic flows into algorithms applicable to data transmission and vehicular traffic. If humans agreed to let a computer network take the wheel, the principle learned from ants could alleviate congested traffic and get us to destinations more quickly and more safely according to Marcus Randall, a Bond University software mathematician. Any why are ants travel systems superior to humans? It appears aunts are more patient than humans. Ants slow down, which avoids traffic jams, and take turns which increasing efficiency and safety.

2. Ants are good for our health Trials in a Sydney hospital have already shown that antibiotics produced by ants are effective against a wide range of organisms, especially fungi, that cause diseases in humans. In particular, they kill the fungus Candida albicans, which is common in humans and, causes 'thrush', an infection of the mucous membranes.

1. Ants may save humanity An international team of scientists believe ants can help save humans from the next super-bug. Scientists have found new strains of drug-resistance viruses, like tuberculosis. This has created concern about new waves of pandemics. But ants may help save the day. Some ants harvest gardens of fungus carry on their bodies a secret weapon, an antibiotic-producing bacteria, which works against the parasites that invade their crops. Scientists believe that the fact that the bacteria and ants have coexisted for thousands of years means there may something there which decreases the rate of antibiotic resistance. Further study could help modern medicine solve the problem of antibiotic –resistant bugs. THANK YOU ANTS!


The Quran and Ants:

The story of King Solomon and the ants is mentioned in chapter 27:18-19.
These two verses tell how ants detected the approach of King Solomon and hid underground lest they be trampled. King Solomon over heard the ants and ordered his people to pause so that the ants might escape safely. This teachign tells us ants are rational caring intellegent creatures and we should treat them with mercy.

ThE Bible and ants:

Acording to the bible, ants have an intellegence that rivals mans. We are told to look at ants as role models in wisdon and thrift.

Proverbs 30:24-28 says--
“There are four things which are little upon the earth but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.”

While Proverbs 6:6-8 says--
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise; Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”

First Nations TraditionNative peoples also have many traditional teachings about ants, telling us to be respectful of them, that the creator loves them, as well as keen observations about the role of woman as leaders in a complex society.

A Choctaw Legend

The great Spirit made the very first people at the same time he made the grasshoppers, and both from yellow clay. They were born in an underground cave and then walked to the surface through a large tunnel. People and grasshoppers emerged together and traveled off in all directions. But the people were much bigger than the insects and trampled many of them... Some even killed the great mother grasshopper who lived in the cave!
Fearing they would be wiped out, the grasshoppers called out to Hashtali and asked that no more people be allowed to come forth. Now, the Great Spirit hears the cries of all living things and he took pity on the grasshoppers. He made the tunnel much smaller and turned the remaining people into ants so that they could no longer trample the grasshoppers. The ants you see today are those people. Don't step on them!

Ant Woman and Bear Legend

When the earth and all things upon it were created, there was only darkness. The Ant people were being eaten by Bear and it was feared they will all be eaten. The ants go to the smartest ant (Ant Woman) and seek her help for their very lives.

Ant Woman prays and fasts for 3 days and then says she will go to Creator to ask for light. She meets Bear on way to see Creator. Bear demands to know where she is going and Ant Woman tells him why she will speak to Creator. Bear says, "I will come too. I want to keep the dark as it is."

Creator listens to Ant Woman pleading for her people. Bear then explains why there is no need for Ant Woman's people to have light. Creator says a Dance contest will be held. The best dancer between Ant Woman and Bear will get what they want.

A huge feast is planned -- everyone is invited. (They all gather from the 4 corners -- the winged, and 4-legged, and 2-legged)

Ant Woman continues praying and fasting (tightens belt). Bear feasts. He is so sure he will win the dance contest he does not worry. He then sleeps and when he wakes he eats more.

The contest is held. Ant Woman faces Creator and those watching and says, "I, Ant Woman, dance for light." Bear says, "I, Bear, dance for darkness to remain."

Ant Woman dances very well, but so does Bear. They both spin and twirl in intricate patterns for hours and stop dancing only when the drums stop. The Creator cannot decide a winner and says, "Ant Woman and Bear will dance again tomorrow."

Ant Woman continues praying and fasting (She tightens belt for she is growing weak from hunger). Bear feasts and cheerfully stuffs himself full of the good food laid out.

Contest is held. Ant Woman faces Creator and says, "I, Ant Woman, dance for light." Bear says, "I, Bear, dance for darkness to remain."

Both Ant Woman and Bear dance and dance, spinning and dipping until the drums stop after several hours. But still Creator cannot decide winner and says there will be one more day of dancing to see who is the best.

Ant woman continues praying and fasting (She again tightens belt to stop the hunger pangs) .. Bear gorges himself on the food saying he must keep up his strength to dance. Then throws himself down for a long nap.

Contest held. Ant Woman faces Creator and says, "I, Ant Woman, dance for light." Bear says, "I, Bear, dance for darkness to remain."

Bear begins dancing but soon he staggers around from all the food he has eaten and finally he falls down, groaning. Ant woman, although very weak from fasting, dances the best she has ever danced and wins the contest.

Then the Creator said, "I love all of my children. I cannot give all to one and not the other and divides time into day and night. Creator explains to all that during day, ants can gather food for themselves and their children and can escape if bear approaches. Bear will hunt at night.

Even today you see the effects from Ant Woman saving her people.

Bear still gorges self -- and walks as if too stuffed. Bears hunts mostly at night.

Ants come out in the day light and busy themselves gathering food until it grows dark. And now you know why Ants have very narrow waists.

It appears the Ant People still celebrate what Ant Woman accomplished for them by lifting the best dancer ant high into the air after the dance contest was held!



Wideye said...

AARRRG! I can't read this - I'm creeping out...crickey I hate ants.

Ward of the State said...


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