For those of us who really love ants, the Web is wonderful bait. My essay on the thirteen Great Myths About Ants (part of my series on almost everything you believe is just wrong) is already out of date.
One current view and point of research is running the hive as a model for Complex Systems. Ants have no leader, and they get their marching orders from larvae, yet millions of ants -- and the scale is part of this interactive success pattern -- following almost pre-instinctive rules of individual behavior, can build bridges with their bodies and forage for food along vast efficient highways. They farm, cultivate, protect, and have thrived with an almost indifference to evolution, in their present form for 100 million years.
What are the rules these little guys are following? Can we run the model and project it to the next scale?
In complex systems, through local interactions and self-organization, stable or semi-stable patterns emerge at a next level or a higher scale. They project.
They adjust to small changes in the system or initial conditions and re-apply across new conditions. Very promising research models.
....Well, back to the ANTS, here is a short Digg List:
Army Ants Have Defied Evolution For 100 Million Years (May 9, 2003) — Army ants, nature's ultimate coalition task force, strike their prey en masse in a blind, voracious column and pay no attention to the conventional wisdom of evolutionary ... > read more
Clemson Fire Ant Research Uses Biological Approach (Dec. 21, 1998) — In the ongoing war to control fire ants, a new, biological approach is being tested at Clemson University. Entomologists here have introduced a naturally occurring disease into fire ant colonies as a ... > read more
Parasites Prevent Ants From Protecting Coffee Plants (Aug. 8, 2003) — Azteca ants are voracious predators that live on coffee plants and aggressively defend their territories. That’s generally good for the coffee plants, which are protected in the process against ... > read more
Some Tropical Birds Depend Completely On Army Ants To Flush Out Prey (Oct. 17, 2007) — In the jungles of Central and South America, a group of birds has evolved a unique way of finding food -- by following hordes of army ants and letting them do all the work. Some of the birds rely ... > read more
Army Ants Form Living Pothole Plugs For Their Roads (May 28, 2007) — Certain army ants in the rainforests of Central and South America conduct spectacular predatory raids containing up to 200,000 foraging ants. Remarkably, some ants use their bodies to plug potholes ... > read more
Ants Are Experienced Fungus Farmers (Mar. 25, 2008) — It turns out ants, like humans, are true farmers. The difference is that ants are farming fungus. Entomologists are providing new insight into the agricultural abilities of ants and how these ... > read more
Get 'Two Steps' Ahead Of Fire Ants With Organic Control (May 12, 2004) — Red imported fire ants love wet, rainy, cool days like the ones that ushered in spring. That's why so many of their mounds have been popping up all over Texas this year. But help is only two ... > read more
Ability To Capture Large Prey May Be Origin Of Army Ants' Cooperative Behavior (Dec. 15, 2005) — Scientific insights come at the darnedest times. Animal behaviorist Sean O'Donnell was having an afternoon cup of coffee when a giant earthworm exploded out of the leaf litter covering the jungle ... > read more
- Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable. I am filled with joy. It can't be helped.
Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired. Filled, just filled, with Joy.