Red Ants, Visakhapatnam, India by Shakti Bishnoi

Picture Story

RED ANTS: THE SUPER-ORGANISM

1. Ants occupy a great variety of habitats and their biomass exceeds that of all vertebrates combined. Their social organisation is orchestrated by intricate chemical communication. Their abundance and varied ecological roles make them influential in agricultural ecosystems around the world. Amid growing concern about biodiversity loss, some ant species and communities are at risk of disappearing; some even appearing on the IUCN Red List, while some invasive species contribute to the extinction of other creatures. Improved understanding of ants, how to identify them, where they live and what they do is therefore a vital task in sustainably developing our world.

2. The neglect of ants in science and natural history is a shortcoming that should be remedied, for they represent the culmination of insect evolution, in the same sense that human beings represent the summit of vertebrate evolution.
3. "A Super organism is a colony of individuals self-organised by division of labour and united by a closed system of communication." Ant colonies display traits similar in function to the cells and organs of a bigger organism like humans.
4. One fine afternoon, I noticed the ants had suddenly come out their respective colony and were busy in transporting goods to their next destination. Suddenly, one was left out and I saw an amazing aspect of ants; It single-handedly lifted the leftover goods without seeking help from the other ants and shifted to the destined location, all by himself. All were full of praise for him and he was greeted with happiness and sense of achievement. This happens with the onset of spring and before the monsoon season, when they settle down.

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