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The Lie: Evolution


The World of Ants

by Anonymous

Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
Which having no guide,
Overseer or ruler,
Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
Solomon,10th century B.C.

Ant Communities

It has been said that no man is an island. Interdependence is also an attribute of the ant, which lives a communal life. An ant colony is founded by a fertilised queen who will lay eggs immediately after breaking off her wings. (The male usually dies soon after mating). Some queens associate together in groups so that the colony's chance of success will be greater.

The queen now becomes simply a large egg-laying machine, adjusting her output to seasonal needs. The first eggs laid develop into female workers, who are themselves infertile and never grow wings. They are involved in collecting food, tending the larvae in the nest, and feeding the queen. Workers also enlarge the nest, collecting materials and digging tunnels as required.

Winged 'alate' males and females are reared at certain times of the year. Eventually they leave the nest for a mating flight, returning to the ground so that the fertilised females can found new colonies of their own, thus continuing the life cycle.

Types of Nest

There is no such thing as a typical ant nest. Some species prefer deep shade, others bright sunlight. Many prefer a particular type of soil in which to tunnel. While some ants burrow, others erect mounds of various materials easily to hand. The home of Lasius flavus is a little grassy mound in an area of limestone grassland, while that of Formica rufa is a great pile of pine needles in a coniferous wood. The American army ants do not build a nest after a day on the march; they simply bivouac by arranging a cluster of worker ants over the queen and her brood. This cluster may hang from a branch or fill a hollow log. (The termite, whose giant anthills are a feature of the landscape in parts of Africa, are not true ants.)

Leaf-cutter ants Atta sexdens in the Americas construct large complex nests. One
such nest was carefully filled with concrete by Jacoby in 1955. This revealed an internal volume of 1.5 cubic metres, 120 metres (130 yards) of 31cm (11/4") diameter tunnels and a hundred fungus chambers, each of 6.5 litres (11/z gallons) in volume. The internal temperature of such a nest was about 15° C or 27° F above soil temperature.

Many tropical species nest above ground in plant crevices or in hollow stems, while
Crematogaster ledouxi builds a carton-nest of chewed wood and soil carried high up the tree towards the canopy of the forest. In the Alps, some species build in the rosettes of alpine plants, sometimes thatching the nest with dried plant remains found nearby. In Australia, Oecophylla species sew leaves together (see illustration) to produce a leafbag nest, using silk produced by their own larvae to fasten the leaves together.

Ant-Aphid Symbiosis

Many ant species cultivate herds of greenfly and blackfly (aphids), either above ground on young plant stems or underground on roots. What can these sap-sucking aphids supply which the ant colony wants ? Each aphid secretes a drop of honey-dew when stroked by an ant. The ant collects this sugar solution much as we milk cows. There is no evidence that this symbiotic relationship has evolved over the years. The Konigsberg fossil collection of over eleven thousand specimens of ants in amber contains several examples of ants preserved while milking their aphid 'cows'. (Ants, like men, were unconcernedly going about their business in the days of Noah, and the flood came and destroyed them all - Luke 17, 27.)

Is this honey-dew from the aphid a sufficient diet for the ant ? Auclair (1963) detected a complete range of foods in it: proteins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals. This food can be collected at a great rate as Hertzig found when studying Lasius fuliginosus: 6 kilos (1 stone) in 100 days from a large nest.

In many cases the ants tend the aphids within the ant nest. Alternatively, the ants
may visit the aphids during the day as the latter remain on nearby foodplants. Wood ants will forage for over 100 metres throughout the night, visiting up to 65 species of aphid. The process of milking begins with a careful inspection of the aphid colony which leads to the selection of a suitable 'cow'. The ant then uses its antennae to stroke the abdomen of the aphid repeatedly. A droplet of honey-dew is thereupon excreted at the anal aperture, held there in some species by a ring of hairs until the ant has collected the entire droplet (see illustration.) In other species, the partially consumed droplet may be retracted and then extruded again when another ant strokes the abdomen of the aphid. Surplus honey-dew is flicked away by the aphid, using its third pair of thoracic legs, if no worker ant collects it after some time.

The aphids can repel unwelcome visitors, such as the larvae of the ladybird beetle, by using the paired tubes which project above the aphid's abdomen to daub them with a waxy solution. The worker ants sometimes afford protection to the aphids by carrying them to safety when predators threaten.

A Harvest of Fungi

As Agur observed almost three millenia ago, the ants are a people not strong, yet
they prepare their food in the summer. They collect seeds at harvest-time. For example, Messor structor opens seeds and chews them to a paste of starch and saliva, several ants working at the same time on a single grain.

Many ant colonies deliberately cultivate fungus within their nests. They collect circular pieces of leaf, cut with their jaws by turning around one leg like a pair of compasses. The leaves form beds of compost which are inoculated by the queen, using fungal fragments from her previous nest, carried away in a pocket beneath her jaws. The fungus garden is fertilised by ant faeces, and certain parts of the fungal mycelium are then fed to the larvae by the workers.


The Italian zoologist Felix Santschi (1911) observed that desert ants in North Africa followed a straight course across barren sand dunes which were totally without landmarks. He suggested that they were using the sun to maintain their bearings, and tested this hypothesis by reflecting the sun's rays at a different angle using a mirror. The ants turned through the same number of degrees as the difference between the sun and the mirror's reflected light. This sun compass needs another special sense, that of time, so that the ant re-adjusts to the sun's changing position as the day advances. This is accomplished by fixing the sun's image in one eye facet and moving the bodies direction after a fixed interval so that the next facet centres the image. In this way the ant can pursue a straight course without landmarks. Further studies showed that they could still run in straight lines when the sun was overcast by clouds. Karl von Frisch of Austria (see pamphlet 264 on Honey Bees,) showed that ants could detect polarised light even when the sun was not shining directly on them. They can pick up the polarisation pattern in the sky and adjust to this at fixed time intervals.

Scent trails made by glands in the abdomen are laid by scout workers who find food sources and return to the nest leaving a scent trail behind them. Other workers pick up this trail, follow it and find the food without being led there by the original scout. The scent leaves a tunnel-like tube of aroma which persists for a short time and then disperses. A worker coming across this scent trail unexpectedly can determine its polarity', deciding which direction leads to food and which back to the nest.

Different species combine an assortment of navigational techniques. Many use gravity detection, especially when the nest is on ground higher than the surrounding woodland. Each change in the angle of slope is registered by the foraging ant and used to guide it back to the nest again. Various experiments have demonstrated that most ants check their bearings by different methods while they are running over a well used path. This may be necessary in view of possible disturbance by other animals crossing their trails.

Anatomy of an Ant

Adult insects are covered with a skin or cuticle which is hard in some places and
soft in others: adjacent hard parts are joined by a flexible soft membrane so that they can move with respect to each other. There are three basic systems; the mouth-parts, the legs and the sting. The mouth-parts consist of various tiny limbs and flaps which detect and manipulate food particles. The paired mandibles perform many tasks such as carrying the prey, chopping up food, excavating passages in the soil and transporting eggs and larvae about the nest. The second system consists of three pairs of legs carried on the middle portion of the body, the thorax. Each leg has nine joints ending in two claws and a central adhesive pad (arolium.) The fourth joint (tibia) carries a spur (strigil) which is used for cleaning the antennae and the other legs. The third system, the sting, protrudes from the rear of the abdomen. It secretes a poison, formic acid, which can be sprayed on to, or injected into, an enemy.

Sensing the Environment

The ant's simplest sense organ is the single hair or the hair-plate. These indicate the positions of the joints by the degree of bending they experience. Other hairs detect chemicals and correspond to taste and smell in man. Experiments with various sugars show that preferences vary: Manica rubida will only accept seven different sugars, whereas Myrmica rubra happily devours twelve. The organs responding to these carbohydrates are found in the antennae.

Temperature and humidity are vital to ant health in the nest: both are detected very accurately. Formica lugubris starts in Spring with an optimum of 22° C, but this is raised to 32° C (90° F) by the Autumn. Most species prefer an almost saturated humid atmosphere.

Another vital detector is a proprioceptor hair, set in a raised dome on the outside
cuticle of the skin: these register the deformations of the cuticle and so measure the stresses on the insect, preventing selfdestruction from the use of excessive force. Other chordatonal organs in the blood space of the tibia of each leg contain cells which respond to ground vibrations. Camponotus Ligniperdus can detect these between 100 and 3,000 cycles per second, as well as changes in 'g' (acceleration) from 0.2 to 0.7g.

Adult ants have two types of eye: a compound pair placed towards the side of the
head, and three simple ocelli on the upper surface of the head. The compound eye is composed of many facets, more or less hexagonal in shape, each overlying an ommatidium which forms an image of a small portion of the ant's field of view. The total picture is one of light and dark dots. The more numerous the ommatidia, the more accurate the picture obtained, but this is limited by the wavelength of light which determines the minimum size of an individual ommatidium. The Driver-ant, Eciton burchelli, has large single-facet eyes. A few species of the genus Dorylus are blind.

Ants Created, not Evolved

The theory of evolution requires that the ant developed from something simpler and less specialised. This would require an increase in genetic information, which can not arise spontaneously. Rather, information speaks of an input from an Intelligent Source, which is creation. The complexity of all the parts, and the behaviour patterns, is controlled by a considerable amount of information. Something partially evolved, be it eye, jaw or navigation system, would be non-functional - a hindrance to be selected against.

The fossil record shows that ants have been ants as far back as we can discover, and their symbiotic relationship with aphids is the same today as in the fossils. Nothing has evolved.

The ants act as a community. It is not easy to imagine how such interdependence of queen and workers could have evolved. How did they function before they evolved this interdependence? The jobs of workers and queen and mating males are preordained by a different set of instincts for each functionary. The instincts ride upon genetic information, which again speaks of an intelligent Creator. When the female worker provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest, she is driven, not by a captain, overseer or ruler, but by a set of instincts built in by Jehovah Jireh, the Providing Creator.


The following books, from the author's shelves, show the advance in knowledge of ants, and will provide further insights on these fascinating creatures.

Ants, Bees & Wasps, Sir John Lubbock Kegan Paul, Trench, 1882.
Ants and their Ways Rev W Farren White Religious Tract 1883.
British Ants. their Life History and Classification H St J K Donisthorpe Geo Routledge, 1927.
The Guests of British Ants: their Habits & Lite Histories, Donisthorpe, Routledge, 1927.
The Social World of the Ants, A Forel, Putnam's Sons Ltd,1928.
The Lite of the Ant, Maurice Maeterlinck, Cassell & Co, 1930.
Bees, Wasps, Ants & Allied Insects, Edward Step, Frederick Warne, 1932.
Ants, J Huxley, Chatto & Windup, 1935.
Hymenopterist's Handbook, Cooper et alia, Amateur Entomol., 1943.
The Ant World, Derek Wragge Morley, Penguin Books Ltd, 1953.
Ants, their Structure, Development and Behavior, W M Wheeler, Columbia University, 1960.
An Introduction to the Behaviour of Ants, John H Sudd, Edward Arnold, 1967.
Pleasure from Insects Michael Tweedie David & Charles, 1968.
The World of Ants, R Chauvin, Victor Gollancz, 1970.
Insect Travellers, John Kaufmann, World's Work, Ltd, 1974.
Ants, M V Brian, New Naturalist, 1977.
Ants of the British Isles, G J Skinner, Shire Natural History, 1987.
Behavioural Ecology of Ants, J Studd, Blackey, 1987.
Proverbs 6 & 30 quoted in Revised Authorised Version.

For information regarding the rearing of ants in captivity, write to the author at; TCCT, 9 Courtland Rd, Torquay, Devon TQ2 6JU.

Pamphlet 268

The Creation Science Movement