Life of an ant, as told by Chopper

Ants. Have you ever stopped to think about that? Ants. Tiny insects who are just everywhere. They’re quite successful when you think of how abundant they are, out-numbering us by over 1 million ants per human…I know…


Obviously some people have taken the time to think of them. We have Marvel’s Ant Man, and that cheery Frank Sinatra song, and then of course there’s me. At the moment I am busy sorting and identifying ant species as part of my PhD. I got to thinking, if they’re so abundant they must be doing something right, right? I Googled “life lessons from ants” and found we can learn quite a lot from these little guys. Even the Bible says to learn from ants in Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise”. So without further ado, here are 5 lessons I’ve learnt from ants:

  1. Ants have their ducks in a row. First off, they delegate. You have different forms of ants (workers, soldiers, queen) each performing their respective function for the good of the colony as a whole. They are also super planners. They know to collect food in summer and store some for winter. In addition to saving the queen and larvae first as in this National Geographic short, this planning shows that they are thinking ahead, not only for themselves but for future generations. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Teamwork – ants work together. I mean look at the raft in that Nat Geo short! Surely you’ve walked around an ant colony before, barefoot or with flip flops, and felt those annoying biters munch in? Teamwork in defending the colony, and also when they find food. They form a line and gather the food together! Ants leave scent trails to guide each other to a source of food. So they keep each other on track, which can be a nice metaphor for life with friends and family too.
  3. Ants share. When a lone ranger ant finds the Jellytot you dropped he doesn’t shout “Eureka! I’m rich!”…no…he relays the message to all his buddies to help gather and bring it back to the colony to eat and store as necessary!
  4. Ants are disciplined. The marching line to food. There’s no cuts or unruly behaviour. They just march in line. Have you ever put your finger across an ant line to disrupt it? The result is usually they march on over or around your finger to follow the scent, or else they might split up to find an alternative food source and leave a new trail. They don’t just give up and call it a day! They’re hard workers who mission on! Respect!
  5. And finally, coming back to a point I touched on earlier, ants take care of each other. I learned while reading up on this that in some species and cases, healthy ants will lick sick ants that suffer from fungal infection, to spread the disease through the colony, thereby sharing as much of the disease so that each individuals’ immune system can fend it off effectively. How cool is that! I have a cold, anyone wanna lick me and share the load? I mean we as a species look out for our friends and family, but how cool wouldn’t it be if humanity as a whole were a colony, instead of small individual offshoots fighting against each other?

These are just a few of the lessons I’ve come across. We can learn so much from these tiny insects in terms of serving our community, teamwork (whether it be literal teamwork or within relationships with family and friends), work ethic, and just life in general. I’m humbled to be working on these tiny creatures for a while, although slightly annoyed at their abundance sometimes. I hope you enjoyed this and have an AWESOME week!

All my best!





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