Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Ant analogies (3)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Ant analogies (3)

Ant of the day (photo thanks to Alex Wild) is Myrmecia piliventris, the Australian Jack Jumper Ant, one of the Bulldog Ants. What might we learn from this feisty fighter? Well, to avoid it if possible - jack jumper ants cause more deaths in Tasmania than spiders, snakes, wasps, and sharks combined. The problem is that their powerful venom frequently causes allergic reactions and anaphylatic shock is not uncommon. Fortunately their biographer and analyst Simon Brown has made it part of his life's work to protect the rest of us.

Aside from torturing human invaders, their venemous punch is advantageous for hunting and fighting. Colony living, workers make solo foraging trips and carry back prey to the nest. They are territorial and fight readily.

Which is why they feature in Arthur Schopenhauer's classic "The World as Will and Representation" as as a paradigmatic example of strife and constant destruction endemic to the will to live". "..... the bulldog-ant of Australia affords us the most extraordinary example of this kind; for if it is cut in two, a battle begins between the head and the tail. The head seizes the tail in its teeth, and the tail defends itself bravely by stinging the head. " (Gordon Brown, are you reading this?)

His sad conclusion was that emotional, physical and sexual desires can never be fulfilled. F-ant-astic.

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