Ants on a Wasp

Posted on May 20, 2011

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For the past 30 minutes I sat and watched the miracle of natural communism as Peter Kropotkin would describe in his Mutual Aid.

Last night I hit a wasp on my window (sad, I know, but I’m allergic) and it fell, still intact, to the window sill below. I watched as one ant approached the dead creature, easily 5 times its own size and attempt to move it to no avail. I watched still, as another ant came to join him, and another, and another, until there was a maximum of 8 ants at one time participating in this puzzle.

It is a 12 inch drop from the sill to the carpet below, so the ants were in quite a pickle. I watched them each communicate with each other via antennae. Each one conversed with another and it was clear that there was no ring leader, only comrades united for a common purpose.

As more ants came to the aid of the original, they devised a system where three to four ants would attempt to get the wasp in a position where they could easily carry it, while three at a time went on what could only have been a search for an escape route. They alternated these roles about every minute or so, entirely without dictation or instruction.

More than once, they approached the edge of the sill, unprepared. Their search parties must have reported that there was no route appropriate for carrying the wasp away, and that a drop must be made. After half an hour of teamwork, they found a comfortable position for which to drop the wasp off the sill.

They inched it closer and closer, having some ants push while others were on the edge to support the drop. Finally, they reached the gravitational threshold and the wasp fell with one ant still attached to it. The remaining ants on the window sill touched antennae in what appeared to be a celebratory manner, then proceeded to the aid of their fallen comrade on the carpet, who was unharmed by the fall.

Mission accomplished.

(the picture is a generic one from the internet. I did not want to miss a single second of the action to go get a camera to take on of my own)

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Posted in: Anarchism, Communism