AN AMAZING FACT: Ants are the most numerous creatures on Earth. It has been estimated that the combined weight of the world’s ants is greater than the combined weight of all humans on the planet. We also admire ants for their ability to pull 30 times, and lift 50 times, their own weight. That would be equivalent to you or me out-pulling a Clydesdale or lifting an elephant. Ants understand team work too! If necessary, they will make their bodies into ladders to climb on, or rafts to float on.
Ants are also among the most organized insects. Some ant species herd aphids like domestic livestock. The ants and aphids are engaged in a symbiotic relationship in which each benefits from the other. On the one hand, the ants actually care for the aphids and protect them from ladybugs. In exchange, the ants receive nutritious “honeydew” excreted by the aphids. The ants tap the aphids with their antennae to let them know they would like some honeydew sap. Then they carry the “honey” back to the nest to feed others. While tending their flock, the ants may redistribute the aphids on the host plant to prevent local overcrowding. Before winter, these ants will even carry off aphid eggs to start a new herd of aphids in the spring.
Some ants are also farmers. Leafcutter ants from the tropical forests of Central and South America live in huge underground colonies, ruled by a single queen, that may contain as many as 8 million ants. The largest workers leave the nest and go out foraging for leaves and petals. They collect the leaves by cutting them with their sharp jaws into small pieces. They then carry the pieces back home. But they don’t eat the leaves. Instead, these resourceful insects use them to grow their own food! Back at the nest, smaller worker ants chew the leaves into tiny pieces to form large compost heaps. This compost grows the fungus on which they feed. These fungus gardens deep underground are carefully tended by tiny gardener ants.
The Bible says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6). When we study God’s creation, even the lowly ant can inspire us and give us wisdom.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.Proverbs 6:6-8