Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ants As Empaths

As a child observing nature was my passion and I spent most of my waking hours exploring and playing in the woods. Often I observed, followed my observations with an experiment, and thus I learned of the empathetic nature of ants.
Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organized colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. The colonies are oft described as super organisms as the ants appear to operate with a collective consciousness that appears as they telepathically communicate… they have colonized every place on Earth.
The ant hill itself is fascinating and when one realizes the ants are all ladies, the order is not hard to imagine. It is housekeeping at its finest with the nursery of utmost importance. Their home is an entire social system unto itself with workers, soldiers, and a central Queen, who lays the eggs. If one disturbs an ant hill by poking a stick into the central opening, the activity will immediately commence… initially with panicked running in circles. (I imagine them screaming the ‘sky is falling’). Within moments however, order replaces chaos and Herculean effort to save the eggs begins as individuals carry the tiny white eggs to safety.

When the children were little I noted the trail left by ants that wove in and out of the gardens all the way to the North field, where the large colony existed. To demonstrate the ant’s nature, I intentionally injured one who was traveling along the path carrying a piece of grain. She dropped her package, writhed in pain, rolling out of the line. Immediately a sister noticed her distress, and several others stepped out of line and joined her in attending to their injured comrade. (Since ants have a severe case of OCD, stepping out of line is monumental for them.) The injured ant was gently lifted to her back and our heroine began the arduous task of taking her home.

The colony was almost the distance of a football field from the site of the injury, and in spite of many obstacles placed in her path, she preserved. We placed large rocks, crumpled paper, stick baracades, pieces of tin... numerous objects... and when she encountered them she had to decide how to proceed with her comrade. She continued, often putting her sister down to find a way around our barriers, before returning  pick her up again. She carried her sister home where she was met by others who gently ushered the injured lady to the recesses of the colony.

Is it not amazing that a tiny species has universal compassion for their brethren? Perhaps we might look upon them for inspiration as to how to treat our fellow humans.

Photo Credit: Andrey Pavlov, who has created numerous fantasies using ants. His work is amazing~ 

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