So yes, ants are creepy little creatures that we don’t really like to see in the garden. YES, they can climb on us, bite us, and make us have a hard time, AND YET: they are much better little beasts than we think… The proof!
Little tips: make yourself comfortable to read this top. I wouldn’t want you to have ants in your legs in 5 minutes! Yes, it was a little too easy, but I had to wedge it somewhere.
1. The ant does not let go
Very clever is the one who will prevent him from going after his dreams (unless you literally crush it, of course, but know that makes you heartless). You do not believe me ? So try to block his way! You will observe that she will try by all means to circumvent the obstacle to reach her goal. A beautiful little beast whose abnegation commands respect.
2. Ants are real “nurses”
In Africa, Matabele ants and termites are waging a merciless war. As in all battles, unfortunately there are casualties. According to Swiss researcher Erik Frank, ants don’t let their homeland die just like that. NOPE. They are able to identify the suffering, to repatriate them and to treat them. According to the scientist’s team: the death rate drops from 80 to 10% thanks to this care. Crazy, right?
3. … they are also nurses for humans
Still in some African countries, army ants, such as the Dorylus, are used… as stitches. Renowned for the power of their bite: they do not let go once they have caught their prey. Populations like the Maasai thus force the ants to bite their wound, then (watch out, it’s pretty gory) tear off their bodies. It’s trash. But the reality is there: they heal (at their expense, of course).
4. They are unbeatable in athletics
The Cataglyphis bombycina ant (more commonly known as the “Saharan silver ant”) is the fastest in the world. Scientists filmed it traveling 85.5 cm in one second. Mathematically, this amounts to 108 times its own length, in 47 strides. If we reduce this data to a human scale, it’s 10 times faster than Usain Bolt! NOTHING. THAT. THAT.
5. Ants are generous (maybe even a bit too much…)
It all starts with an already unusual physical phenomenon: worker ants do not have one, but two stomachs. The first, as with humans, is used for the digestion of food. The second is for storing food. This reserve allows them to (sorry for the picture) regurgitate some of their food to feed a congener in galley. Visually, it’s quite disgusting… In fact, it’s a fine example of self-sacrifice. Do you really know a better proof of love than being able to share your food?
6. Ants invented agriculture
And this, long before us, little human beings! According to a study published in 2017 in the British journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B”, they would have discovered it millions of years before us. Yes Jamie! Pushed by the drought, they would have developed underground mushroom fields in their anthills to survive.
7. They are real strategists
Not wet cardboard strategists like Ahmad from Koh-Lanta, real ones, real ones! It is also partly thanks to their intelligent plans that they are formidable warriors. To fight the enemy, scientists have already observed them sending out an individual as a scout, then returning with many soldiers. Not sure that makes them very reassuring beings, but still, it’s remarkable. Moral: it’s better to have them in your pocket (figuratively speaking) than on your back (figuratively speaking) AND literally).
8. They are (very) ingenious
Strategy is one thing, ingenuity another. Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) are able to form a floating raft by grouping together. Let me explain: they cling to each other and form a kind of homogeneous ball. Thanks to the water-repellent characteristic of their body, they stay on the surface of the water and can thus save themselves during a flood. Gozzzz Noah’s Ark, next door, it’s cat pee! Good on the other hand, basically, it’s still quite undemocratic and modern… The workers are outside and take rather expensive, while the queen waits quietly inside. (Note that they can remain like this for several months.)
9. Ants change color
You thought it was reserved for chameleons? Well no ! Ants ALSO can change color. Be careful, it’s still not the same thing: if the chameleon blends in with the decor, the ant takes on the color of the food it ate. Well… Not ALL of the ant, just its stomach area. The reason is very simple: this part of their body is transparent. There. Everything makes sense. Like what, there’s always something behind a beautiful magic trick.
10. They could detect cancer
This is the latest big news about these really not stupid beasts. According to a study conducted by scientists from CNRS, Sorbonne Paris Nord University, Institut Curie and Inserm: they would be able to detect ovarian cancer and two forms of breast cancer, thanks to their sense of smell . Formica Fusca ants would only need a single hour to detect diseased cells and would have identified the disease in 95% of cases. In the future, they could intervene on the saliva, urine or sweat of potentially affected patients. For the moment, studies are continuing on mouse urine.