Weaver ants live in a highly organized, co-operative society, where every individual has a role to play in the survival of the entire colony.
They build nests by stitching three to four leaves together using larval silk. Their ‘art’ of making nests requires them to first find suitable locations on top of trees and then bend down three/four leaves broader than a man’s hand and place them in an orientation that demands the force of a thousand ants, holding down such leaves, each drawing down with all his might and the others fasten the joints to build a spacious nest that protects their colony from impending danger of predators.
Ants are assigned their jobs based on their physique and they set off with utmost sincerity and discipline.Those in charge of food take the ground route, they bring anything edible back to their colony and feeding millions of mandibles is not an easy job!
The nest builders look for suitable places for building nests on top of trees and the army is very aggressively busy protecting the existing nests filled with ants and their eggs, small troops are posted at construction sites. These mandibles, while carrying a delicious meal for others, are very often attacked by enemy colonies to snatch the prize in order to reduce their effort of looking for prey and food.
Ant-mimicking spiders have a very interesting chemistry with these ants. They mimic the behavior and appearance of ants to mingle with them, stay in their nests and feed with them. This also saves the spiders from predators. The camouflage of these imposters is impenetrable but they do show their true colors when they are alone.
These ants are stronger than they appear. A dead spider, almost twice the size of an ant is easily transported by one single ant, maneuvering against the difficult terrains, finding possible route to their nests avoiding possible danger.
Weaver ants are on this earth longer than humans and we need to adapt some of their methods to make our society as close to ideal as possible to survive the wrath of time. “United we stand, Divided we fall’ a proverb as old as the human race, has lost its esteem. Weaver ants believe in unity and to build nests, all the participating ants have unfathomable coordination among themselves. Clashes among different colonies always results in victory of the more populous side.
The tenacity to carry food to their homes overcoming all hurdles should be a source of inspiration for humans and their attitude of never giving up needs to be inculcated in us.
Photos and text by Suraj Bhakat