June 20, 2015

Ant business

All of a sudden the black ants are busy, and everywhere the sun-warmed pavements show evidence of their underground industry:

At some point in the next couple of months, probably on a warm, still day following rain, the ants in many local colonies will decide that conditions are right and the tiny drones and big female gynes will stream out of the nests and take to the skies to mate.

I am fascinated by ants – who wouldn't be? – but I also suffer from an irrational dread of anything that swarms or clusters. I try not to indulge this fear, but nevertheless Flying Ant Day is not an easy one for me.

For now, though, the ants are mostly safe underground, creating impressively complex societies using their unimaginable collective mind: one reminder among many that we are lucky enough still to live with aliens among us.