Ant, Yet Signific’ant’!

Sip…sip…slurp…slurp…gulp…gulp… “This is real cool stuff gals”, hollered N0206, dangling off the top of the grass blade acrobatically slurping off the dew drops sticking to her antennae and front legs, “d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!” “Hey girl, will you concentrate and do your job of guiding N2511 and N2212? They’re overloaded with the cut grass blades and need to start transferring the haul back home!” admonished N0203, “or else the chatter will start – the N team is hopelessly incompetent.” “Yes, and moreover the countdown to the 47 Species Leaf Cutter Ants Championship has already begun; this year we have to make the finals”, interjected N2508, “last year those Acromyrmex girls beat us hollow!”

“Hey, stop spreading all that negativity you blabbermouths, this year we WIN…long live the Attini!”, bellowed N0206 swinging from her perch and now hyper, shouting out orders, “N1308, N3004, N0202 and N2309, take the lead and carry 3x body weight load to the nest. Inform the decontamination duty ladies to add amino acids and enzyme 3XW97 Leucoprinus fungal growth booster as this is a fresh load with dew moisture and feed it to the fungii.  Also ask the nurses to feed this morning’s harvest of gongylidia from the fungus to our larvae – lucky babies getting all the goodies while we adults have to survive on insipid leaf sap and if lucky enough, occasionally a feast of this amazing dew.”

“I love this mutualism thing, you know”, analysed N2508 wisely, “we feed the fungus, the fungus feeds our babies. If the world at large too could hold hands, be helpful towards each other, learn to give in order to earn something, and evolve in mutual harmony, it would make for such a better planet, with peace and amity everywhere!” N0206 had climbed down, sobered up by the reflections of her friend. “I agree”, she said, “keep it flowing buddy, who knows, your contemplation may one day reach the ones who need to think about it the most”. And with a brief nod towards me N0206 started the long walk back to the nest, an antenna thrown over N2508, even as I remained still, crouching and now head lowered in the tall grass well off the path to the creek…

– Narendra Nayak © 2017

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