A Rescue Attempt?

February 13, 2010

I spent much of Friday evening, officially Ant Day One, watching the ants.   They really are fascinating to study –  I suppose its because I expect them to begin organizing their little world, so I assume that every move they make is filled with some kind of purpose, a purpose that might be revealed if I pay close enough attention.

Once the ants had established that they could not escape their little plastic prison, they divided into two camps.  Some ants went busily about exploring and others clumped together in groups and did nothing.

There was one ant that appeared to not be doing so well.  She fell down into the tunneling hole.  I was pretty sure she was dead, but there would be an occasional leg movement.  Then I was pretty sure she would eventually be dead.  But then one of the busy ants took notice and it appeared that something was going to happen.

The ant down in the sand had been there for a while, with slight leg movements indicating some struggle:

I've fallen and I can't get up...

The rescue(?) ant(s?) come in and dig her out:

6:08:49 pm

And suddenly she is freed:

6:09:15 pm

In a matter of 25 seconds, the injured and/or mostly dead ant was moved from the hole and brought above.  I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly, so I missed the moment when she was first above ground.  Doesn’t it look like one of the ants is raising its arms in celebration?

Unfortunately, not long after this “rescue” photo was taken, the ant in question was shoved back into the hole.  And then some effort was expended on the part of the shoving ant to compact the injured and/or mostly dead ant into a tiny space down inside.  And then I had dinner.

After dinner, the dead/mostly dead ant was removed (again) from the hole and placed next to the other dead ant, the one who had been dead all along.  I’m pretty sure there is another dead ant on the far side of the plastic barn and one or more other ants who don’t look as perky as the rest.

I would like to believe that the rescue attempt was genuine, and that the ant’s injuries were determined to be without hope of survival.  But I’m not sure why all the trouble of putting the mostly dead ant back down into the hole only to dig her out again later.

One comment

  1. Perhaps the rescue was unsanctioned. Those that participated might have been disciplined and required to return her to the hole. After the effort of rescue, the disciplined ants may have been angry or blamed the injured ant for their plight, causing hostility….?

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