Photo of Ants and Aphids by ©-Stuart-Williams-(CC-BY-SA-2.0)
Humans admire the ants’ diligence and sense of unity. These little crawlies have inspired us in many ways, and stories were written about them.
A fable by Aesop – The Ant and the Grasshopper
In the summer, the Grasshopper was hopping around and singing. Presently, he saw an Ant pass by, bringing loads of food back to its nest.
The Grasshopper asked the Ant, “Hey you, come on! It’s summertime! Why don’t you join me and enjoy this wonderful time of the year?
The Ant replied, “Sorry! I need to find more food for the storeroom, or else all of us in the nest will have no food to eat during the coming winter! You should do the same too!”
The Grasshopper laughed and said, “No, I can’t be bothered with all the hard work! I’d rather sing the summer away!
When winter came, all the flowers and leaves faded away, and there was nothing except snow all around. The Grasshopper soon ran out of food and was starving. He saw the Ant and his family happily feasting on the bountiful food they had gathered during the summer, and were singing to their hearts’ content in their warm nest.
Shivering bitterly, the Grasshopper regretted his laziness and realised that it is best to save up for days of need, during times of plenty.
A fable by Aesop – The Dove and The Ant
One day, an ant went to the riverbank to drink.
All of a sudden, the rush of the river swept the ant away. The ant was on the verge of drowning.
Fortunately, a dove was sitting on a nearby tree and saw this. The dove plucked a leaf and dropped it into the river close to the ant.
The ant quickly climbed onto it, and the leaf eventually drifted onto the riverbank. The grateful ant promised to return the favour in the future.
A week later, as the dove rested on a branch, a hunter came along, took out his slingshot and was aiming at the dove to hit it.
The ant, perceiving the hunter’s intention, stung him in the foot. In pain the hunter threw down the slingshot, and his shout startled the dove, who immediately escaped to safety.
One good turn deserves another.
A Native American mythology
When the First World was destroyed by the God Sótuknang due to man’s wickedness, the good First People took shelter underground with the Ant People. The Ant People were very kind, treating them as honoured guests, and sharing the food in their stores with them.
Even when the food supply was running short, the Ant People deprived themselves in order to feed their guests. They tied their belts tighter and tighter everyday, and this is the reason why ants are so small around the waist.
A story from the Hindu script, Brahma Vaivarta Purana
The God of the Weather, Indra, once ordered the great divine architect, Visvakarman, to build a splendid palace for him. Indra kept demanding more and more of the architect.
Frustrated, Visvakarman approached Brahma, the Supreme Creator for help. Brahma then went to his brother, Vishnu, to discuss the matter. Both of them agreed to do something in order to dampen Indra’s pride.
Brahma and Vishnu sent a Brahmin boy to Indra, asking him, “How long does it take to complete this palace? No other king before you has ever succeed in building a palace this big!”
Surprised, Indra replied, “Tell me more then, little boy. How many kings could have possibly been before me? Haha!”
The boy then revealed himself as a messenger from Brahma and Vishnu. He showed Indra a parade of ants, four yards wide, and spanning the length of an endless column.
“Each of these ants,” said the boy, “was once a king who pursued a vain desire, but they became an ant as punishment for their pride.”
Indra learned his lesson and so, to this day, the great palace was never built.
The Mesoamerican God of Agriculture, Quetzalcoatl, not only created human beings but also helped them in their daily affairs.
He introduced the cultivation of corn to the people by disguising himself as a black ant, then sneaked into a mountain guarded by red ants.
The red ants kept the seeds of maize in the mountain for themselves, until Quetzalcoatl stole the seeds and gave it to mankind. That is why red ants will sting men, but black ants will not.
- Australia’s bulldog ant (genus Myrmecia) have compound eyes with well-developed vision. They can accurately gauge the distance and size of moving objects from a meter away.
- There are a few species such as African driver ant workers (genus Dorylus) that are completely blind and communicate entirely through pheromones.
- Ants have narrow waists with one or two movable parts. They can wriggle their abdomen, twist and turn in different ways, allowing them move about in the crowded and tiny tunnels of their colonies.
- Not all ants are hardworking. Amazon ants (genus Polyergus) raid the other ant colonies and rob their pupae, and enslave them as the workforce for the colony.