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Thursday, April 7, 2011
This ant colony has many rooms, and each room has a special purpose.
Staying alone can be a nice way to live. Still, most people do better with the company of others. When people live together, they can be of great help to each other. That is why human beings have always lived in groups. Even cave men and women lived in groups in their caves. Some hunted and some cooked. Some acted as guards. By living and working together, they lived through many hard times.
For American Indians, living together has long been a part of their way of life. Indians are free to live where they choose. Yet many Indians still live on reservations. On the reservations they can live much as they would in other places. But they are with other humans who have some of the same needs and problems as they have.
Animals, as well as humans, live and travel in groups. There are many different names for these animal groups. Fish swim in "schools." Wolves run in "packs." We speak of a "pride" of lions. One of the most familiar and interesting groups of all, though, is found in the insect world. It is the "colony" of ants.
The most important ant in each colony is the queen. Sometimes an ant colony has more than one queen. Queens spend their lives laying eggs. The other ants in the colony are children of the queen. It is the children who do all the work. The children are called "workers." Some workers build the rooms and tunnels of the colony. They burrow through the ground, making the colony home larger and larger. Scratching their way through the soft earth, they build tunnels and rooms that lead to other tunnels and rooms. They burrow this way and that way, always busy. They also carry some of the earth outside, grain by grain, forming a small hill around the open hole. We know this as the familiar ant hill.
The workers build a special room for the queen in the middle of the colony. They build other rooms for the new baby ants that hatch from the queen's eggs. Some workers act as nurses to take care of the babies. Some workers take care of the queen. As the babies grow, they, too, become workers.
Some workers become hunters. They leave the colony each day, searching for food. A piece of garbage carelessly tossed by a human hand can become a feast for the ants. A crumb from a human can be an ant's dinner. An ant has two stomachs. One stomach is for the food she eats when she is hungry. The other stomach is for the food she saves. Often, a hunter ant will bring back food in this stomach to share with the other ants. She can pass the food from her stomach to the stomach of a hungry ant.
Sometimes a hunter ant will try to bring a large piece of food back to the nest, but will not be able to do it alone. If it is too heavy for her to carry, she will return to the colony for help. One or more ants will go back with her to share the load. Have you ever seen ants around a garbage pail? Did you wonder how so many of them got there? Sometimes a hunter ant will find food that cannot be brought back to the colony. Then she will return and let the others
know about her find. The ants that are able will follow her back to the food.
Sometimes ants "milk" other insects, much as humans milk cows. At an ant's gentle touch, the little insect will let out a sweet, wet drop for the ant to drink. Some ants act as guards for the ant colony. These ants have larger heads than the other ants. Their heads are too large for the inside work of building and taking care of the queen and babies. Carrying those big heads around, they get tired quickly if they hunt for food. Instead, they spend most of their time near the ant hill, protecting the colony. Sometimes they fight enemy ants.
When the weather becomes really cold, the workers close the ant holes. All the ants crawl into the deepest rooms and settle into a winter sleep. They do not wake again until the weather becomes warm. Working and sharing together, ants get much done. For their size, it is a wonder that they do it all. Ants do not give up. If one cannot do something alone, others will help. If one is in trouble, others will help. Ants could teach humans a good lesson, if we would pay attention.
1. People have lived in groups ______________
2. Ants live in _______________
3. The queen's job is to _________________
4. The queen is the most important ant in the colony ___________
5. The worker ants are ____________
6. The worker ants __________________
7. Ants have ______________________
8. The ants with larger heads ______________________
9. Another name for this story could be ____________________
10. The main idea of the story is ______________________
Rescue at Sea
Susan B. Anthony
Posted by John Robinson at 10:30 PM