August 19, 2013

Ants fascinating to watch

I was sitting on my front porch a few days ago and noticed a dead insect on the ground in front of me.

I couldn’t tell what it was, as it seemed too large to be anything I would expect to be lying dead on the porch. As I looked more closely, I saw that the insect, itself, was about the size of a wasp. It looked larger because it was surrounded by ants. 

I watched as the ants gathered around the insect and slowly began to carry it away. It was a fascinating procedure to watch, and I could imagine them talking to each other. 

“On three. One, two …” 

“Hey Annie, you’re not pulling your weight.” 

“To the left, Alice, the left.” 

“You got the drumstick last time, Ariel. It’s Annette’s turn to have it.” 

They moved the dead insect more than 7 feet in less than 10 minutes. It was an impressive feat to observe.

Ants have an advanced social structure. A colony consists of one or more queens, some male ants and many sterile, wingless female ants. 

The queen and the males swarm in order to mate. The males die after mating, and the queen loses her wings and lays her eggs in the nest that has been constructed by the female worker ants. The queen determines which eggs will result in a male ant and which in a female by fertilizing some with the sperm she stored while mating. Only the fertilized eggs will produce female offspring.

The ant has four growing stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The female ants do all of the foraging and caretaking and protect the nest and the developing ants inside it. These worker ants may even move the eggs and larvae deeper into the nest if the nighttime temperatures are cold or closer to the surface of the nest if they are warm.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg A monastery in the Hebrides, after 1,000 years

    Before Father Seraphim Aldea can build a monastery on Scotland's Mull Island, he needs to have a working septic system, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg Old movies offer more than entertaining TV

    Columnist Susan Tobias and her husband, Toby, are reminded of simple childhood memories while watching an old black-and-white movie.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time