Here’s a favorite passage from Mark W. Moffett’s Adventures Among Ants (featured in yesterday’s post):
“My first memory is of ants.
I was down in the dirt in my backyard, watching a miniature metropolis. A hundred ants were enraptured with the bread crumbs I had given them, and they enraptured me as they ebbed and flowed, a blur of interactions. I marveled at how they sped into action when an entrance cone collapsed, or when one found a crumb or wrestled and killed an enemy worker. I could see that ants addressed problems through a social interplay, just as people did.
Years later, I met a group of Inuit children who had been brought by a special program to Washington D.C., from a remote village in Alaska. Expecting the kids to be awed by the wonders of modern civilization, the welcoming committee was taken aback when the children fell to their knees to gape at a gathering of pavement ants, Tetramorium caespitum, pouring from a crack in the sidewalk. Alaska teems with charismatic megafauna like bears, whales, wolves, and caribou, but these children had ever seen an ant. The awestruck boys and girls shrieked with delight as the ants circled and swarmed at their feet.”
It’s reassuring to think that somewhere on the globe, probably every minute of the day, there’s children crouched down, peering into the empire of the ants.
Read more about someone who never got over his childhood fascination with ants, featured in our recent post on E.O. Wilson’s new novel, Anthill.