myrmecology

I really knew I wanted to be Adam, because Adam was the first man. Ant I chose because, if there’s a nuclear explosion, the ants will survive.   – Adam Ant


Myrmecology: from the greek, myrmex is ant and logos is study. Early myrmecologists thought ant society to be an ideal form of society and sought to find solutions to human problems by studying them.  Their succes in thriving is attributed to their social organization, ability to modify habits, tap resources and defend themselves.

IMG_7234The ant is the subject of this small mixed media panel. It feels unnatural to paint only one. Imagine that she is a worker ant searching for food whereupon finding it she returns to the colony to tell the other worker ants.

Last summer we had ants that found their way to the honey I keep on the table. I followed the trail that came in from a plug on the wall. Not good. All summer I tried to get rid of them. I understand now they communicate with pheromones, sound and touch. I’m wondering should they return, can I annoy them with vibration or odor of some sort.

The ants typically seen by humans are wingless females. They never reproduce. Among other things, their job includes foraging for food, caring for the queen’s offspring, working on the nest, and protecting the community. Ant colonies are headed by the queen, whose function in life is to lay thousands of eggs that will ensure the survival of the colony. Male ants have one main role—to mate with her. After they have performed this function, they die.

I do enjoy learning ants have muscles. Their legs are strong and allow them to run quickly. They are able to lift 20x their own body weight. Ants have 2 stomachs. one holds the food for itself, the other is to be shared with other ants. Crushed ants omits an ‘alarm’ pheromone (they also have ‘propaganda’ pheromones, to confuse enemy ants). An ant brain has about 250,000 brain cells – collectively a colony of 50,000 has the same brain cells as a human brain.

Surprisingly I find this everyday creature to be particularly enjoyable to study and detail. She’s pretty, I have to admit. And the idea of the colony, a queen and her army …intrigues.

Ants symbolize all good things coming with time and effort – working with diligence and with others to forge a life. I get those myrmecologists.

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