Re: More About Ants (for spike)

From: E. Shaun Russell (
Date: Sat Nov 17 2001 - 12:53:36 MST

Mr. Molloy forwarded:

>Smell rules fire ants
>One gene controls whether a persistent pest serves one or many queens.
>16 November 2001
>A protein that spots smell controls the power structure of fire ant colonies,
>Michael Krieger and Kenneth Ross of the University of Georgia, Athens, have
>discovered (1). One form of the protein leads to nests with several queens
>living in harmony.

This may be a little off topic, but...

When I lived in Southern California, Chris Rasch and I decided to go for a
hike up the foot of the San Gabriel mountains. Chris had gone up there
previously, and knew of a little oasis amidst the desert-like terrain. So,
a couple of miles up we found the oasis, complete with waterfall and green
trees etc. While Chris went off in one direction, I went off in another,
and after climbing a little ways up one of the banks of the stream, I came
across a few *very* large red ants. So for a few minutes I just stood and
watched them mill around aimlessly doing what most ants do. However, when
some ashes from my cigar hit the ground a few feet away from them, not only
did the few ants that were in the proximity come rushing towards the ash,
but scores of them started pouring down from the soil bank. Now like
Spike, I have always enjoyed watching ants do the things ants do, but never
in my time of ant-watching have I ever seen the speed at which these ants
rushed towards this foreign bit of ash. I can attribute it to only one of
two things: either these fire ants (for that's what I discovered later they
were) have a more advanced "telecommunications" system, where a few can
send a signal to hundreds within a couple of seconds, or they have an
advanced sense of smell. From the article above, it seems to be the latter.

Of course, it could just be that these particular ants fancy tobacco.

E. Shaun Russell Operations Officer, Extropy Institute
                                             Director, Kryos Biomedical
          Hear my music at:
                  ~K i n e t i c i z e Y o u r P o t e n t i a l~

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