Self-Destruction Defense

Self-Destruction Defense in the Exploding Ant image of Order:Hymenoptera Family:Formicidae Genus:Camponotus Species:Camponotus saundersi Specimen:casent0179025 View:profile

How can an ant defend against a predator by blowing itself up? The worker ants of a species (Camponotus saundersi) that lives in Malaysia and Brunei use self-destruction defense. Let me explain.

These ants have two glands filled with toxic glue running the length of their bodies. When the ant seems to be losing its battle with a predator, it makes the ultimate sacrifice. By violently contracting its abdominal muscles, the ant ruptures its body. The explosion scatters sticky poison in all directions disabling the predator.

How can that benefit the ant? Obviously, that ant dies, but its action spares the rest of the colony from the predator. Humans sometimes sacrifice their own lives to save others. But, unlike humans, ants are not conscious of the fact that they are sacrificing themselves for their colony. How can we explain this by natural selection? Self-sacrificing ants would not reproduce to pass on that trait to their descendants. It must have been designed into the ants by the Master Designer of life.

These ants practice self-destruction defense even though they don’t understand the concept of self-sacrifice. However, I believe their Creator does. It’s expressed beautifully in the Bible. (See John 15:13 and John 3:16.)

— Roland Earnst © 2020

World’s Fastest Jaws

Worlds Fastest Jaws - Mystrium camillae Insects are the most prolific of all animal groups on the planet. History records instances in which scourges of insects have caused massive destruction when they are not held in check. One of the most effective controllers of insect populations is other insects. An example of that is a species of ants with the world’s fastest jaws.

Recent studies by entomologists using high-speed cameras have shown that the ant Mystrium camillae can snap its mandibles at speeds that are 5,000 times faster than the blink of an eye. Their jaws close with so much force that even if they don’t touch their prey, they can stun them. This high-speed, spring-action  jaw closing is part of a designed system that helps maintain balance between predator and prey in the natural world. Sometimes humans cause nature to become out of balance. In the natural world without human mismanagement, there are animals and plants that keep nature in balance.

Designing life systems that can exist over the long haul is incredibly difficult. One of the problems in space travel is developing systems that will provide food for astronauts over a period of many years. Several experiments have been tried, but none have been successful. God’s design of life systems on Earth is amazing. We frequently see species with special equipment like the world’s fastest jaws of the Mystrium camillae. They were designed to maintain a balanced world where humans can thrive.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: National Wildlife, June/July 2019, page 8.

Fire Ant Towers

Fire Ant Towers
Those who live in areas where fire ants are active can tell you about fire ant towers. The ants will encircle a rod, stick, or tree to build a tower that is wide at the base and narrows as it goes up. You can watch this behavior on a video posted here.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology were interested in how the ants do this without crushing the ants at the bottom. What they found was that the ants form rings around the structure at the center using their sticky feet to cling to each other. The rings are all concentric, but they get smaller as the tower grows. Ants near the bottom only stay there for a short time, backing off to take a break and then climbing up to the top to rejoin the structure to keep the tower standing. These towers are temporary, but they shield the colony from outside forces.

This behavior of fire ants cannot be learned. It is certainly not the product of trial and error but is clearly programmed into the ant’s DNA. Many insect behaviors are characteristic and peculiar to a certain species of insect. These built-in skills strongly suggest that the programming was done by an intelligent Creator to enhance the survival of the insects.

Proverbs 6:6 tells us, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.” While the passage is about being active in providing for the future and avoiding poverty, the message also comes to us today to see the handiwork of God in even His smallest creatures. Scientists are studying these ants to learn how they work together and build fire ant towers so that science can apply that intelligence to program robots.
–John N. Clayton © 2017