Pine Nuts: Army Ants and us

Army Ants know all about aggression. They think they invented aggression, and they will do it all day long for the queen. Sound familiar? Here’s how they wage their wars; first they bivouac, that is to say, they build a living nest with their bodies within a tree trunk or hole in the ground.

Don’t ask me how they do that. Once they are organized into a big ball, the soldier ants, those with the big mandibles, patrol the surface of the bivouac and fight off aggressors.

How the queen, down there in the middle of the bivouac ever gets anything to eat is a mystery to me, but worker bees manage to get C-Rats to her somehow. If her C-Rats are anything like what we had in Vietnam I would caution her against entertaining ham and lima beans.

I don’t know how long an Army Ant queen can sit on her thrown, but if she’s anything like what they have in the United Kingdom it could be 70 years or more, though if that queen were to ever try ham and lima beans, well, that could cut short her sovereignty.

Army Ants probably aren’t aware that we study them, and even if they were aware, it wouldn’t change their behavior any. They would continue to wage war on other bivouacs while shouting, “Hail to the Queen!

So I ask you, what if there were an eye in the sky watching Russia and Ukraine today, and betting on one side or the other at the local sports book, would we ever know or even care? We have something in common with Army Ants and I think I know what it is … testosterone. Those soldier ants with the big mandibles? They are the tailgaters in the bivouac, agitating others and keeping the bivouac in a constant state of agitation and vexation. We have no permanent enemies, except testosterone. Nuclear proliferation fueled by testosterone is a draconian cocktail that could deliver our last merry-go-round ride if we’re not guarded.

It might take a strong pair of tweezers to test the testosterone level in an Army Ant because we know that Army Ant will fight you every step of the way. But if we ever do find a way to test the testosterone level in an Army Ant I believe we’ll be onto something.

Testosterone is the button pusher for wars, whether they be eight-legged Army Ant wars, or two-legged Army General wars.”

Come to think of it, in certain sports competitions if a woman has a high level of testosterone she will not be allowed to compete as a woman, so I guess we already know how to measure testosterone levels. Now we just need to figure a way to harness those hormones to a level where countries will play nice, and we can put our energies into cultural exchanges of music and dance and art and literature, and tailgaters will naturally turn up the music and back-off a little.

Call me a dreamer, but it can happen …


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