Sunday, 4 September 2016


Reading a bit like a formicidic version Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the research of Polish entomologists into an ant “colony” discovered subsisting in a derelict nuclear weapons bunker yields quite a few unexpected findings, via Super Punch.
That the ants could carry on at all under such harsh and deprived conditions is remarkable to begin with, but even stranger is how they go through the motions of eusocial behaviour (more on the insects here and here) absent a queen or off-spring of their own, the population only being replenished by hapless outsider ants that fall through holes in the ventilation shaft and are obliged to join their ranks. The environment in the bunker is not at all suited to ants, being constantly cold and nearly devoid of food sources. Scientists are not speculating that the ants stave off certain starvation by somehow feeding on radiation, but rather gruesomely guess that the ants are surviving off the ecology that has established itself in the ants’ rather extensive graveyard (among the normal conventions that they try to keep up in these very abnormal conditions) and are in a way cannibals once removed—or zombies outright.