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Ants
 

Ants are amazing little creatures that get into picnic lunches and sometimes also into our kitchens and bathrooms. Wherever they appear, they are busily running around foraging for whatever they may find to eat and carry home. These are the "worker" ants.

Back home in the colony there are "soldier" ants that guard the colony against enemy invaders. Outstanding in any colony is the "queen." She is not a ruler in any sense of the word, but is the mother and frequently the founder of the colony. She lays the eggs from which all the ants develop.

Most of the eggs produce workers. They forage and bring home the supplies to feed the queen and the other members of the family. They care for the eggs and the young. They enlarge the nest, clean it, and help defend it when necessary.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the ants is the orderly way in which they live. Each and every ant knows its task and goes about doing it in an efficient and lively manner.

 

Time is precious: The wisest of all men, King Solomon, declared: "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which, having no commander, overseer, or ruler, provides her provisions in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest..." (Proverbs 6:6)

The lazy fellow, the sluggard, would do well to observe the busy ants: how energetically they do their work, not wasting a single moment, and without anyone having to prod them.

Utilize your childhood: If it came to weight-lifting, no man could compete with an ant. An ant may lift 20 to 50 times its weight. Could a man (weighing 150 pounds) lift weights weighing 7,500 pounds?

But, of course, man was not meant to be the strongest creature physically. Man's real strength lies in spiritual things, in knowledge, for example. There is a "harvest-time" for gathering knowledge, and that is during the relatively short period of childhood and youth. This is where a boy or girl could compete with an ant, to see who will waste less time. Who, do you think would come out on top?

Utilize our life: For us, Jews, there is another kind of food – food for the soul, which is "a part of G-d," and requires a G-dly kind of food, namely, the Torah and mitzvahs which G-d gave us to learn and fulfill every day.

For this food, too, there is a "harvest time"; it is the duration of the soul's life on this earth. In the eternal lifespan of the soul, its stay on earth is like a fleeting moment. Yet, it is the most important part of its life, for it is only here on earth that it can do mitzvahs!

 
 

 

Listen to this colony of ants scurry about

Watch a video of Ants

 



There are over 8,000 species of ants!

A queen ant can lay up to 100 million eggs in a single day, and can produce eggs for up to 15 years!!

Ants are social creatures; no ant lives alone. Ants live and work together in large communities called colonies. Some larger colonies contain over 5 million inhabitants!

In 2004 a supercolony was discovered in Melbourne, Australia spanning 62 miles (100km). The largest supercolony ever recorded was found in 2002. It stretches across Europe for more than 2,700 miles (6,000km) with billions of ants inhabiting millions of nests!

During the year, a colony produces some winged males and females. These will then take to the air for the first and last time, in a tremendous swarm, or "marriage flight." After mating, the males quickly die and the females shed their wings and crawl for cover. After laying eggs in a new nest and feeding the young, a new group of workers develop. These workers take over the activities of the nest, and from this time on, the queen is simply an "egg-laying machine."

Parent's Tip: An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight. Ask your child what is the heaviest thing that he can lift, and see how that compares to an ant’s abilities! Ants also work in teams. Ask your children to work together to pick something up. How is it different?

 

Ants are fascinating because in a colony, many thousands or millions of ants function as if they part of a single organism. This is like the structure of the Jewish nation: while we seem like separate creatures, we really make up one giant body. “Kol yisrael areivim zeh lazeh,” all Jews are interconnected and responsible for one another.


Ants are beneficial to humans. Their tunneling mixes and aerates the soil, and they feed on pests such as fleas, caterpillars, and termites. They also clean up the environment by eating dead insects and decomposing animals. In addition, ant colonies are a source of interest to scientists. The amazing way that tiny, simple ants form such complex organizations has implications for artificial intelligence and network theory.