underground airline

ants of the sky

Posted in science by hydeph on August 2, 2009


Some people, like Ed Wilson aka the “Lord of the Ants” (on Hulu or PBS) have dedicated most of their lives to the study of ants. I wonder in what ways we’ve already made practical use of the things they’ve learned in ant research (other than more effective ways to kill them, obviously). Maybe at some future point we’ll see them as more than just pests? I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords 🙂

Cool facts!

  • “They have social habits that differ from one kind of ant to the next. You know, each kind of ant has almost the equivalent of a different human culture.” – Ed Wilson
  • Ants use chemical pheromones to mark a trail to food, to alert danger and possibly differentiate between threats, to locate a new nest, to mark position in a colony’s social hierarchy or “caste”, or to discriminate between other living and dead ants. A fire ant may have 10 -20 such communication patterns. – Ed Wilson.
  • Some ants appear to herd aphids as a controlled food source. I’ve seen these ants carry the aphids on their backs to shelter during heavy rainstorms.
  • Feynman was very curious about ant behavior and carried out some of his own experiments.
  • In one type of fire ant, normal sexual reproduction takes place but only produces sterile offspring. All males are clones of a father who was able to destroy the maternal set of genes in an egg. All female ants are direct clones of the queen. Weird, right? from Cloners vs Sexuals, also “Has the mystery of sex been explained at last?”

Between the Buried and Me – Ants of the Sky from “Colors” (13:10)Amazon.comLast.fm

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