Holy Crap! All those 1960s horror movies were right!
The BBC reports that an ant mega-colony is taking over the world. And the most disappointing thing is all the signs were there, and I didn’t pick up on it.
When I was six, the family went camping. While out exploring, I straddled a log to shimmy over a creek. The log was teeming with hundreds of ants that were the insect-equivalent of ‘Jaws’ in the James Bond movies. I’m not sure, but I think I heard one of them yell ‘Charge’!, and next thing you know they were biting the shit out of me. The park ranger had to come and spray Stingose all over my skinny, six-year-old legs.
I’ve never been one for the ‘don’t-kill-animals-even-insects-because-karma-will-come-back-and-bite-you’ thing. I’ll maul mozzies, splat spiders and assasinate ants without a second thought. That’s just how I roll. But now I’m rethinking my position.
According to the story, this one breed of Argentinian ants has hideouts the world over:
“In Europe, one vast colony of Argentine ants is thought to stretch for 6,000km (3,700 miles) along the Mediterranean coast, while another in the US, known as the “Californian large”, extends over 900km (560 miles) along the coast of California.”
Six thousand kilometres! How the hell did we miss that? And there’s more – they all know each other.
Here’s how the experiment unfolded. A bunch of scientists with tweezers and really steady hands got some ants from California, Europe and Japan and put them in a cage with some folding chairs, broken glass etc. They also told each ant that the other ants had said really mean stuff about them (it was mostly “ya mama” jokes I think, but I’m not sure).
So after they fired the ants up, the scientists expected them to brawl like crazy. But they didn’t – they just did some secret ant-gang signs and started hanging out. It’s like all the international chapters of the Hells Angels catching up; turns out that the Japanese and Californian and European ants are all super-tight with each other, and they send cards at Christmas etc.
Imagine being a scientist waiting for the ant biffo to start. There’s not much activity, so you bust out the magnifying glass for a closer look. And there is just a whole bunch of ants standing really still,in solidarity, ALL JUST STARING BACK AT YOU.
Anyway, I finished reading this story, and I happened to look across and see some of the related stories. This is what I saw:
That’s right – seven solid years of stories about ants getting super-organised. Colonies in Australia? Check. They had a leak in the organisation – no problem, ants don’t screw around with cheats: “deceitful ants were bitten, pulled and held by their peers.”
And then the clincher headline: Bees and ants ‘operate in teams’. The coalition of the stinging. You heard it here first: our tiny, six-legged mates are mobilising, and they are going to sting, rash and itch the shit out of all of us.
Consider yourself warned.