Humans and Ants

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Entomologist and National Geographic photographer Mark Moffett looks at the similarities between ants and humans, specifically our use of warfare.

With speed and sheer numbers, weaver ants can overwhelm and pin scorpions and other large prey. These hunters in Cambodia will carry the scorpion to the nest and tear off bits to feed the larvae, which need all the protein they can get. (From the May 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands April 26.)

As weaver ants build a nest in Malaysia, they must pull one leaf toward another. A long body—about a third of an inch—is a boon, as each ant grabs on to adjacent leaf edges with feet and jaws. If one body isn't sufficient, the insects interlock to form chains. (From the May 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands April 26.)

It's the insect version of squeezing glue from a bottle. This adult weaver in Australia holds a silk-producing larva in its jaws, spreading the larva's sticky secretions to bind leaves for the colony nest. Few animals match such intricate homemaking techniques. (From the May 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands April 26.)

National Geographic
These photos appear in the May 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands April 26.


Mark Moffett

Comments [10]

LM from New York

Maybe this is not exactly on-topic.

PamNyc, you must be a "feminist" who came after the movement of the 1970s. Original feminists were appalled or would have been appalled at definitions such as "chick" or "gal" or other such words meant to infantalize or objectify women. In fact there were old-school feminists whom embraced being thought of as "old" or in other ways unattractive because original feminism's principles were to have women come away from being objects and be thought of as workers, inventors, doctors, lawyers and not have to be associated with stereotypical roles or ideas merely for being female. More modern feminists think that being " feminine" and pleasing to men ought to be a part of everything women do and that it does not affect a woman's work or the way men relate to her and this goes for women who even become soldiers, construction workers or president of the US. This is why there is so much criticism when women "fail" to be attractive no matter what else they do.
Sure people tend to use the word "old" in a deragatory way, but it should not be thought of as "anti feminist" nevertheless. A lot of women no longer think so, but it is more anti-feminist to refer to women as if they are not to be referred to using terms that do not always acknowledge their appearances. Feminists ought to be able to tolerate negative references to their looks. It ought not be a priority. Should women always be infantalized by always being told that they look "pretty"? There are more important things in life.
Furthermore, if ants put thier "old lady" ants on the front lines to fight, it might mean that older members are being gotten rid of, but it could also mean that older members have more expreience and know-how. There is always a dichotomy and irony involved in such things. Also , you can download the discussion and listen to it again (linda from NYC perhaps you don't know how to do this) and you would hear that the guest on the show mentioned how useless male ants are, or are treated as such by female ants.

So far, no men have written in saying that they are offended.

Apr. 28 2011 07:26 PM

Mike...I guess my response is more nature. More complex for Leonard Lopates comment page. Wouldn't want monopolize this interesting topic with my point of view. Will just end with I am glad that I am 'awfully' sensitive, and that Even though ants are not permitted admissions into our universities to work on Phd's I challenge anyone out there to find one ant who has ever used the term 'old lady'.

Apr. 26 2011 03:05 PM

Pam- You are awfully sensitive. To my knowledge no ant has ever received a PHD. So, perhaps we should consider the context here. In an ant colony- an "old lady" (or "old man" for that matter), IS indeed useless.

Apr. 26 2011 02:15 PM

Yes 'objective from wall street' I'm sensitive and glad. True that was a fascinating absorbing segment. Just wanted to point out that that term is loaded with social historical connotations and can no longer be applied to contemporay life. I have a sense of humor too but will be more receptive to his premise when the ants start a feminist movement of their own!!

Apr. 26 2011 02:14 PM
Objective from Wall Street

@ PamNyc
Oh come on, he's talking ants! His fascinating talk covered useless males too, "breed & die". Just a little sensitive perhaps ??
Fabulous item, get Mark back soon.

Apr. 26 2011 01:46 PM

thanks,Leonard! great segment!!! ...bernard werber 'empire of the ants' - fascinating book to read!

Apr. 26 2011 01:09 PM
linda from NYC

Wish this fascinating program could be
heard on you website. I missed part of it.

Apr. 26 2011 01:01 PM
Eric Cho from Manhattan

this video, from a georgia tech graduate student, is amazing. fire ants are shown creating a life raft, floating on water.

Apr. 26 2011 12:59 PM

As a feminist I deeply resent the use of the outdated term 'old lady' used by the writer to say that ants use 'old ladies' to fight wars because women are useless. Only from a narrow perspective. That term came right out of the Victorian era when men denied women everything. By the time women reached old age they were useless thanks to men. They could no longer breed. I have a PHD am I useless!?wake up to the 21st. Century for heavens sake!

Apr. 26 2011 12:46 PM


Apr. 26 2011 12:35 PM

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