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Life Lessons from an Ant

When life throws curve balls at us, we typically turn to family and friends. However, there could be another source of wisdom for us—ants. It may sound crazy, but these tiny creatures have fascinating lives full of inspiration. Check out some of the best life lessons from an ant. 

Ant on leaf


Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Ants on limb

Ants know there isn’t an I in team. They are social bugs who live in groups called colonies. Members of a colony understand the importance of working together so they can survive. Colony members are broken into different castes, or categories—queen, male, and worker. The work of each ant keeps the colony functioning. Their team mentality goes further than just basic colony needs. Some ants, like fire ants, link together to navigate tricky situations. If they come across water, they all hold onto each other and create a flat, cluster of ants. This allows them to float in the water. They also build towers to climb to places that a single ant couldn’t even dream of reaching.  

Hard Work Pays Off

Ant with egg

Ants are quite the little workers. Each caste has specific tasks they must complete. Queen ants are responsible for laying eggs, which allows the colony to grow. They also must fertilize the eggs. This determines if an egg will turn into a male or female ant. Male ants have one job—mate with the queen. Though it may not seem like much, this ensures the expansion of the colony. Worker ants have many different tasks. Some must tend to the eggs, larvae, and pupae by making sure they’re clean and fed. Think of them as babysitters. Others handle takeout orders. They leave the nest and bring back food for the colony. Ants also pick up hammers and maintain the nest. When the colony’s population increases, these ants work to expand the nest. Worker ants are also the soldiers of the bunch. When the colony is under attack, they march into battle.

All Work and No Play—Not Okay

Ants on tree stump

Balance is an important part of life and ants have mastered this concept. They spend their summers working hard and it pays off. When temperatures begin to drop, ants begin to slow down. They don’t enjoy the cold, so they start seeking warm places to rest. Some head deep into soil and others settle down under rocks or tree bark. Once they find their winter vacation spot, the nest is sealed, and they all huddle together to generate body heat. The queen stays at the center of their cluster. Ants’ preparation doesn’t stop with the nest. In the fall, they consume more food than in the summer. The nutrients from this extra food is stored and then used throughout the winter. When winter starts to fade, ants are rested and ready to get back to work.

Sharing is Caring

Ants on a log

We know that ants like to work together, but it’s more than just distributing tasks and giving each other a helpful hand. When ants find a nice dinner spot, they don’t just bring it back to the colony. They also alert other ants by releasing a chemical that guides ants to the food source. This is known as a pheromone trail. They also release different pheromones when there’s a threat. This warns the colony and lets them prepare for battle. It’s no surprise that these bugs are helpful considering their bodies were made for it. Ants actually have two stomachs. The first holds their own food, but the second stores food that will be shared with the colony. Clearly, we can all learn a lesson about sharing from ants.

Organization Is Key

Ant nest

Having a plan and executing it well is important when it comes to success. Ants are proud to say they know how to organize. Though ant colonies have a queen, she doesn’t give worker ants any orders. They have to organize themselves and share the workload. Ants also have the responsibility of constructing their nests. Like any group project, being on the same page is key. When ants start moving materials, they release pheromones to guide other ants. These pheromones act as a blueprint and tell the ants where to build. This ultimately determines the design of the nest. With their complex tunnel system, it’s important that the colony is well organized.

Ants can drive us crazy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from them. The next time they crash your picnic; take a minute and see if they have a piece of wisdom for you. Which ant life lesson was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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