Insects

The bloodthirsty world of ants

By Alex Potter

Sick of all this festive cheer? Spend your holidays with the most ANTi-Christmas of animals...

For those of us who feel a little overwhelmed by Christmas, the desert honey ant (Myrmecocystus mimicus) shows us how to run an efficient and sustainable Christmas celebration. By following their quick guide steps below, they will give you the ANTidote to Christmas Day pressure. Warning: some of these videos are not for the faint-hearted!

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Bringing everyone together

Like us at Christmas, the ants like to bring the whole family together - from the matriarchal queen ant to the worker ants and larvae, everyone is gathered together in the nest.

Pro tip: to ensure your whole family attends your Christmas celebrations, simply move them into the same dwelling permanently - just like the ant’s nest. Each time there’s a family celebration, they’ll be attending by default because they live there!

The feast

Desert honey ants love a good feast just as much as we do - perhaps even more. Just like us, ants enjoy a wide variety of foods; all species of bugs, enemy ants, friendly ants from outside the colony, ants from within the colony, their own queen ants….

Forget queueing in supermarkets and fighting for the last pack of mince pies on the shelf, the ants have shown how all these delectable food sources are readily available just outside our front door… or inside it….

Sustainability

Showcasing their sustainable ways, these ants see every part of a meal as valuable and waste no food scraps. From other bugs to their own queen’s decapitated head and ripped legs, these ants know how to really make their food last the distance. An important eco message for us all at this time of year.

Full up? Time to join the worker ants and become “repletes”. Repletes are worker ants that fill their bellies with honey and nectar, swelling to the size of a grape. During seasons where food is less available, the repletes regurgitate the food they’ve been holding to feed the rest of the busy ant colony. Just imagine if we could continue to enjoy semi-digested seasonal leftovers once the Christmas joy is over! Yum yum!

Cool place to rest

Now that the feast has been had and we’re full up, it’s time to rest in a cool, quiet place. Desert honey ants have built intricate networks of tunnels and nests underground where the soil is moist and the air cool. In preparation for Christmas, we recommend following the ants lead and building extensions to your home that tunnel deep into the ground beneath your usual dwelling area. A cool, dark place to lie down under the Christmas feast that also doubles as a hideout when you have unwanted guests? Those ants have it made in the shade!

The getaway

As the day stretches on, there’s always that awkward moment when you’re ready to leave - but you don’t want to be the first. Those nifty ants have a solution for this classic Christmas kerfuffle as well - wings! At the slightest hint of a trigger (such as rain or movement), winged ants take to the sky. So when you feel your energy wavering and the day starting to drag on, simply strap on your wings, announce your worry about the possibility of rain and make your getaway.

With the guidance of the desert honey ants, you can use these nifty antidotes to breeze through the stressful festivities.

Featured image © Poranimm Athithawatthee | Pexels

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