Monday, April 6, 2015



Good morning all my fine friends out there!

How has everyone been? I have had a good week--very busy at work and trying to get things ready for spring planting, weeding etc. I have just been busy as a beaver...or should I say ant.

There is a verse in scripture, Proverbs 6: 6-8, which tells us something about ants. “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.” In Japanese the word "ant" is intricately written by linking two characters. The first one means "insect," the other "loyalty."  It is interesting that God wanted this recorded in the bible for us to look at and “consider”. God created ants and they are amazing. Let’s take a look and consider some of their “ways”.

We all most likely have watched ants at one time or another in our lives, especially when we were kids. An most likely what we noticed most was their industrious nature, always coming and going and looking very busy. It is estimated there are  ten thousand trillion ants worldwide living everywhere except on icy mountain peaks and around the Poles. From underground to treetops, they serve as the chief predators of insects and other invertebrates and the principal scavengers of small dead bodies. One estimate puts all the ants in the world as the same weight as all the humans in the world. Now that’s a lot of ants! And as you would guess, there are many species of ants--over 200. And many of them have unique ways of working. See if you can find your work habits in these industrious creatures...

The carpenter ant is well know for excavating wood that has been damaged by water whether in a home or a dead tree. They make their nests in beams, floor boards, large branches and trunks of trees. Their name comes from they way they chew passageways called galleries inside of wooden structures. This is their main living quarters where they tend to stay during the daylight hours going out at night to hunt for water and food, which can be crumbs on your floor or dead insects in the forest. Any woodworking night owls out there?

Honey Pot ants are the vegetarians, feeding on juices of bruised or broken fruits and nectar from many different types of flowers. They have a unique society in that only some of the ants gorge on the food to the point their abdomen swells to a huge round “ball”. Other ants then extract nourishment from them.

Fire ants are also vegetarians, eating mostly young plants and seeds. However these creatures have a very aggressive nature and
often attack animals and people when the unsuspecting victim gets close to a colony. They are so aggressive that they have been known to kill small animals. Anybody have a super aggressive mannerism? 

Leaf Cutter ants make their living by chewing off  sections of leaves. You can seen lines of them taking these pieces of leaves back to their nest where they are used to make fungi, there main diet. Any mushroom lovers out there? These ants are very socially dependent as they have made their own agricultural system harvesting the fungi. Any farmers out there?

Another type of Leaf Cutter and in called the Lemon Ant. This critter is more of a gardener in that it has the ability to destroy vegetation. 
They live in large clearings in the rainforest called devil’s gardens. In these clearing all but one species of plant in injected by the ants with formic acid. 
In this way the ants deftly remove all plants but the one they utilize for their nests; Duroia hirsute -- sorry I couldn’t find a common name. Now I know there are gardeners out there...including me!

And then there is this critter. Hopefully none of you relate to this species of ant...the Thief ant. These guys make their living by raiding other ants’ nests for food and to steal eggs. 

How about the Crazy ant. It gets its name from the erratic way it runs about with no apparent direction. They feed on a wide variety of food including other insects, grease and sweets, even feeding on the larvae of fleas an flies. Well, I don’t eat insects but I do like sweets, and greasy french fries and I have been known to run around in circles! Lol!

Then there are the Weaver ants. These ants are social insects that
have a complex communication system and make elaborate nests out of living tree-leaves. Anybody like texting and crafts?

And of course I have to mention Army ants...everyone’s nightmare. These ants have an advanced communication system of up to twenty signals. Army ants are highly mobile, moving from nest site to nest site and have a shock-and-awe hunting strategy. Other ants search for food individually, sometimes using scouts. But Army ants set out en masse. Being blind, they can't see what's ahead of
them, but moving in such numbers they easily overwhelm their prey usually other ants and large arthropods, a favorite being wasps. They can also kill, and sometimes will eat lizards, snakes, and frogs that fail to get out of the way. Their attack formation is called a swarm raid (think military infantry). As many as 200,000 ants leave the nest in a swarm that broadens into a fan as wide as 15 yards. The soldiers are a whopping one to two inches long! They have a very important role in their group which consists of protecting the queen, killing and gathering food, and forming attacks on enemy colonies. Soldiers are born with very large
mandibles which they use to kill, carry large objects, and to dig. The mandibles are so huge for their body size that they cannot feed themselves. (Any body builders reading this, lol!) The soldiers rely on the team effort of the worker ants to help feed them.  

One thing that is a running theme in all of these ants; community work. We can learn a lot when we consider the ants! =)

Until next week, take care and God bless!

This week in the night skies; for the northern hemisphere... “April always finds Orion leaning over at dusk low in the southwest, with his three-star belt almost horizontal (depending on your latitude). The belt points left toward bright Sirius, and to the right toward Aldebaran and, farther on, Venus and the Pleiades.”1

For the southern skies;The  Light curve of  Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2. It had faded but has now substantialy rebrightened. Althoug still a bit below the peak it is now eaily unaided eye visible again. This nova is well worth watching still, although Moonlight will now make visual observing harder.”2



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