An Anthem to Ants

Ants are a fascinating species. They manage their jobs in a bipartisan way such that colonies enviably run smoothly. Fun facts about them abound. People marvel that they carry 10 to 50 times their weight. However, that is just mathematics. Our weight is determined by our volume. If we were to double our three dimensions our weight would double three times so we’d weigh eight times as much. Our strength is determined by area. If we double every dimension, the roughly circular cross section of our upper arm would become four times as much given the forumla for the area of a circle. Thus, our strength would be relatively weaker. Similarly, if we were to halve all dimensions we’d weigh 1/8 as much and be 1/4 as strong, so relatively stronger. We’d be musclebound if we were the same size as an ant.

I don’t recall the politician who perfectly described: big money in politics like ants in a kitchen. You block one entrance and they find another way in. When we first moved to California, a pleasant surprise was the absence of pesky insects, except for ants who invaded our house once a year. Now, I worry that we haven’t seen them for years as insects are critical for our survival.

This blog was inspired by a curious fact that there are pavement ants who clean our urban sidewalks of crumbs, no doubt each weighing much more than the carrier ant. No doubt country ants also help keep things clean. They eat aphids and help with pollination. They are needed for peonies to blossom. The buds have such a tough cover that if ants didn’t chew on them, the peonies couldn’t burst into beautiful blooms My husband learned that as a boy. He received a scolding for spraying antkiller on the buds. He thought he was doing a good deed.

In researching ants, I discovered that there are more than 15,000 different ant species, and their total biomass rivals that of all of the humans in the world. Just glad they’re small.

4 thoughts on “An Anthem to Ants

  1. I was thinking about ants the other day and marveling at how such a small insect can have enough “intelligence” to locate and communicate the location of an open jar of honey (for example). If we were to try to duplicate this behavior with a “smart” robot, my guess is that it would require significant computational resources that we could not contain in any package approaching the size of an ant.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ants might be wonderful little creatures outside but not when they invade my house. Their amazing sense of smell led them under the front door across 3 feet of carpet to the small candy canes on our Christmas tree. I didn’t know that they were there until it was time to take the tree down and the limbs were thickly covered with ants. But no more of that problem with an artificial tree no candy canes.


  3. I hear you. Just when I said we hadn’t seen ants in the house for years, I encountered one. For some reason they used to invade our pots of house plants. i saw many outside while planting so I’m glad they aren’t going the way of the bees.


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