“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you are willing to risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine. It doesn’t interest me where you live or how rich you are, I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and be sweet to the ones you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.” —Oriah Mountain Dreamer (via cellophaneelephants)
- Ants are descended from wasps that went social and shared tasks such as taking care of their larvae. Individuals in the colonies changed shapes to fit to their tasks better. It is believed that ants lost their wings because it was more economic and thus more suited for producing a large number of workers.
- Most male ants are completely useless. They don’t even have proper jaws to feed themselves. Ant workers, which are always female, take care of them during most of their lives, until they grow wings and leave the colony to reproduce.
- Most ants colonies have only one queen. The queen lay eggs that can hatch different types of ants : male ants, workers, soldiers, queens. When laying an egg, a queen can choose to inseminate it or not. She has a sperm bank that she can close or open. A male ant is produced when the egg is not fertilized. In some ant species, queens don’t even need sperm to lay female eggs anymore. I find this completely mind blowing.
- A colony has individuals of different shapes that fit their tasks more efficiently. For example there are several size of workers. The small ones will stay in the colony and take care of the pupae while the big ones will defend against predators. They can develop specialized body shapes such as big jaws to fight. A particular species of ants has a type of fighter that has a big head shaped like a door. This ant will stay at the entry of the colony with its head blocking the passage to intruders.
- A species of ant has lost the ability to produce workers. Instead, the queen will create abductor ants. They raid other ants colonies and steal their workers larvae. They have jaws shaped like hooks that allow them to transport them. The abducted workers will work as slaves in their colonies.
- Tasks distribution among ants depends on their shape and size but also on their age. Young ants will mostly stay safe in the colony. When growing old, they will assume more dangerous tasks, like going outside to look for food. Thus when an individual is lost, the loss for the colony is less important. In mushroom growing ant colonies, old workers even take care of cleaning a chamber full of bacteria. They will enter the chamber when reaching old age and never leave it, because they will die of contamination. Nature is cruel and efficient.
- My grandmother’s house in Laos is a stilt house. There used to be big gaps between the planks of the floor. I remember seeing ants coming after a messy meal (my grandfather had Alzheimer). About 10 minutes later, they would have cleaned every bit of food that had fell on the floor. We also tried and protect some candies from them by putting them in the center of a bowl full of water. After one night we would find that the ants that died drowning would pile up and form a bridge for the others to pass and get our candies.