5 things ants can teach us about management | BBC Ideas


Ants and human societies
are similar in many ways. They live in communities numbering
from just a few individuals up to many millions. They can build vast empires
that span the world. They conduct diplomacy
with neighbouring settlements. And they can even go
to war with each other. All the ants have just one single
intent on their mind, and that’s the reproductive
success of the colony. Everything that they do is directed
towards that one aim. Most ant colonies consist of just
one reproductive individual – the queen –
and many non-reproductive workers. And the workers
are actually all female. So they’re a vast sisterhood
who does all the work. Now the title ‘queen’ seems to imply
some kind of political authority – that the queen is telling the workers
what to do at any one moment in time, but in fact it’s completely
self-organised. In a colony of ants,
there are no fixed managers. There are no CEOs or presidents. Everyone is working towards
the common goal. If one ant finds a trace of food, that ant will become,
in that moment, a leader, and get everyone else
to come into that food source. But the modern organisation
is obsessed with hierarchy. Obsessed with managers
and where you are up on the scale, which number or paygrade you are. And what happens is
lots of people lower down spend all their time trying to guess
what their manager wants, or their manager’s manager wants, rather than what’s going to work
for the organisation and the people they serve. When an ant encounters a food source,
for example, what it can do
on the way back to the colony is lay a trail using pheromones – and these are just chemicals
that they can lay on the ground so that when others ants come
along and encounter that trail, they know to follow it
all the way to the food. So this simple process
of positive feedback is surprisingly effective
at finding the shortest path. The idea,
borrowing from the ant world, of actually getting the data, making sure you’re capturing it from the very people
who are on the coalface, so to speak, makes tons of sense, because they’re the ones
with the rich qualitative data to be able to feed that back
into the decision-making. We have to be self-organised. We have to allow people to have
their own intelligence and wisdom and organize around a problem
or a project themselves, rather than always waiting for
someone else to tell them what to do, or for a three-year business
planning cycle to take effect. Just as ants respond immediately
to changes in their environment, say the diminishing
of a foraging patch, and adapt really quickly
to that change, organisations must be able
to do the same. If, by looking at ants for instance, it stimulates our thinking about how we might
try to do things differently, then that’s worth it
in and of itself. I just think you probably
want to start experimenting in a quite small and bounded way –
but yeah, why not? Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos. See you again soon!

Ants eating marshmallow & shrimp – timelapse

Ants eating marshmallow & shrimp – timelapse


I stopped at this point because the ants stopped gathering around the shrimp. what’s remaining of the shrimp. just the exoskeleton. still enjoying their marshmallow and not even close to finish. 🙂 I never thought they’d finish the shrimp first. Seems like they have a different taste.

MY FIRE ANTS SET UP SOME NEW “HOUSE RULES” | The Phoenix Empire Laws

MY FIRE ANTS SET UP SOME NEW “HOUSE RULES” | The Phoenix Empire Laws


They’ve got new rules, they count ‘em! Behold the Phoenix Empire, a young fire ant
colony that is growing bigger in numbers by the day. It’s amazing to think that just a few weeks
ago, this fruitful fire ant colony started with just one pregnant queen ant and her eggs. Now, she’s got her own growing army of workers,
masses of babies, and more on the way. But as more fire ant members join this multiplying
army, new rules and colony laws must be set in place if they’re to succeed at becoming
a mighty fire ant colony. These new Phoenix Empire rules which all members
must follow, will truly blow your mind! Welcome to the AntsCanada Ant Channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to my channel, and hit the
BELL icon. Welcome to the AC Family. Enjoy! If there’s something ant keeping has taught
me, it’s that ants are so much like humans, it’s staggering. Before us here, lies the simple setup, in
which an intricate city of fire ants is slowly taking shape. You guys will trip out at some of the rules
they’ve begun to establish, so keep on watching until the end to find out what the Phoenix
Empire’s new quote-unquote colony rules are. But first, here is the Phoenix Empire’s
gorgeous, royal queen, whose name is now officially the ‘Ember Empress’, thanks to you guys
who voted for her official name in last week’s video. Now, I can’t figure out if it should be
“Empress Ember” or the “Ember Empress”. Can you guys take a quick moment to vote here
to help decide on her official name? Thank you AC Council for your input. She’s an awesome queen, and has been quite
busy. Have a look. This here is just one section of her impressive
brood pile. You can see eggs, larvae, and pupae. And here is the queen’s newest clutch of
eggs! If you look carefully, you’ll notice that
some of the eggs have already hatched into tiny larvae. Congrats, our Empress! You’re doing great! Now this might be random, but a lot of you
have been asking about the three bumps on Empress Ember’s head, some of you guys even
fearing they were mites. No need to worry, though! Those are actually eyes called ocelli, useful
to the queen during her past nuptial flight, the great night our Empress here left her
mother colony and mated with males from other colonies. Flying and seeking out potential males all
while also trying not to be eaten by predators, requires good vision so having these extra
eyes on top of her head is super useful. They’re kind of like a fire ant crown now,
and those wing scars you see on her thorax, like her royal stripes, earned the moment
she broke off her wings after insemination, marking the start of her journey as queen! Now, with the queen constantly laying eggs,
and all these new babies popping up demanding attention and care, the workers have been
extremely diligent at helping raise their growing siblings, which brings me to the Phoenix
Empire’s first set of rules. Phoenix Empire Rule #1: Arrange the kids according
to age! Like pre-school, you may notice that the workers
have started to pay closer attention to arranging the brood according to life stage and age. All the eggs are bunched together, and stray
eggs eventually get picked up and placed in the egg pile. Same goes for larvae and pupae. As the colony continues to grow and these
brood piles get even larger and larger, segregating the young according to age becomes more and
more important, and here’s why. Each life stage, requires a specific care
regimen and environment. For instance, eggs need to be bunched together
so they better retain moisture collectively plus they’re easier to transport in packages,
in case of an emergency like during an ant-eater tongue intrusion or something. The larvae need to be constantly fed, and
as they shed their skin multiple times as they mature, the workers need to eat the larvae’s
shed skin, as you can see here, in order that it doesn’t just lay around and grow fungus. Speaking of fungus by the way, eggs and larvae
need to be constantly licked clean by the workers, as ant saliva contains an anti-biotic
and anti-fungal which keeps all brood from harmful fungus or microbes. Finally, pupae and pupating larvae are placed
in the warmest portions of the nest in order that they develop as quickly as possible so
they can become adult worker ants faster, and help out! So as you can see, the Phoenix Empire here
is getting really systematic with how they do things, but fire ant youth management isn’t
all. Check out what else the Phoenix Empire had
been secretly planning! So this brood explosion has been the result
of all the food I’ve been providing the colony this week. Peeking into their food chamber, this AC Test
Tube Portal from our ant shop at AntsCanada.com has been fully stocked with goodies. Have a look! Here you’ll see, a hollowed out superworm
piece. And behind it some sweet mango-flavoured jelly. And much like we saw last week, evidence of
these foods can be seen through the larvae’s semi-transparent skin. But with all the eating this colony has been
doing as of late, it made me wonder what the colony was doing with all their waste. Their test tube appeared clean and sterile
as ever. What was the Phoenix Empire doing with their
leftover scraps, I wondered, and where were they going to the bathroom? AC Family, Rule #2: All members of the Phoenix
Empire are to do their business and eliminate at the designated colony bathroom. Behold, the Phoenix Empire’s official toilet. Sounds weird but isn’t that awesome? They’ve chosen a spot right behind the jelly
to poo. If you’ve never seen ant droppings before,
they look like this. Like bird poop, they have a whitish liquid
part and some solid pieces. And what’s totally amazing is they’ve
strategically set up their toilet area at a spot furthest from the colony. It’s a smart toilet location. The poop dries up and isn’t anywhere near
the delicate young and colony’s living quarters. It could just decompose naturally in the corner. I’m not too sure where the queen poops though,
because I couldn’t see any droppings in the test tube and I assume it was too dangerous
for the Phoenix Empire to allow Empress Ember to wander out in to the open, so my guess
is the workers simply carry her royal droppings to dump into the toilet area. It also would make sense that her droppings
would be minimal, as I’m sure most of the material she eats goes towards all the eggs
she’s producing. But guys, bathroom rules weren’t all that
surprised me. Looking around the test tube portal look at
what else I found! Rule #3: All colony garbage is to be dumped
at this place. Beneath the cup of jelly, I was thrilled to
discover the colony’s garbage. Little bits of uneaten superworm and mealworm
leftovers, as well as the meconia or fecal pellets of the larvae, were all stashed here. It’s interesting that they chose to place
their garbage underneath the jelly cup, because it showed that the Phoenix Empire understood
the need to bury their garbage. In nature, burying the colony’s garbage
helps break it down faster, as it becomes more accessible to soil creatures and beneficial
microbes which feast on this ant midden. Cool right? Now there was one last rule the Phoenix Empire
was following, which I found to be the most interesting! I noticed the colony’s water portion in
their test tube was running out, so I connected a new fresh test tube setup to the test tube
portal. Upon discovery, the Phoenix Empire got really
excited and began sending out workers to inspect the new water source and maybe, just maybe,
their future new nest location once their current test tube dries out. But it was at this time, that I noticed the
Phoenix Empire had began to practice something biologists already know ants commonly do. Rule #4: Only the oldest ants are allowed
to leave the nest at any time! Notice how all the workers entering the new
test tube here are dark in colour? Only the colony elders can venture out into
the world outside the nest, while all new young workers are stay-at-home caregivers
and house chore workers! It’s a smart colony rule because this way,
inexperienced or unhardened young worker ants don’t end up getting injured and/or dying
in the dangerous outside world, and those that do risk their lives to gather resources
outside the protection of the nest, are the hardiest, strongest, and most experienced
of the bunch, and if they were to die, at least the young ones within the nest have
the longest lives still to live, and can hold up the fort until the next generation of workers
arrive, and they themselves become old enough to be foragers. Isn’t it amazing how systematic they are
now? I think we’ll start seeing this more and
more, where the bigger the colony gets, the more organized and structured they need to
be. It makes sense. Whether it be ants or people, it seems the
more complex the society, the more complex the rules. It’s this organization that will ensure
colony success. Biologists aren’t sure how the ants know
what rules to establish, or when, but perhaps its a mixture of instinct and collective decisions
made by members of the colony at the right times of colony development. In the coming days, I look forward to introducing
some allies into the Phoenix Empire’s setup: namely, springtails from our AC Nucleus, our
soil creature breeding facility. The springtails will gobble up the ants’
garbage and bathroom deposits! I won’t do it just yet, though as I don’t
want the springtails to compete with the fire ants for food I place inside. I’ll wait for the colony to get bigger and
more aggressive, before I start playing God and introducing other organisms in the mix. I also can’t wait for the majors and supermajors
to arrive, specialized larger workers with massive heads and brute jaw force for cutting
things up and colony protection! They come much later. I can’t wait for the Phoenix Empire to receive
their first official ant farm, outworld, and eventually full blown terrarium. I also can’t wait for the day this colony
becomes big enough to feed some real meat to! Haha! But one step at a time, and AC Family, I must
say, I love that you all are following the development of this very humble fire ant colony
with me, every step of the way, on their journey to becoming the most powerful ant kingdom
of our Antiverse. I’ll continue to film their evolution closely. It’s all very inspiring for me to see, in
a world where ants, especially fire ants, are generally hated and tagged as gross, killed
and exterminated as pests, that at least in this unsuspecting corner of Youtube, ant love
thrives and grows with the power of a Phoenix. Thank you for watching. It’s ant love forever! AC Family, our fire ants are on their way
up, and it’s great you all are part of this journey! So much is in store ahead so if you haven’t
yet, SMASH that SUBSCRIBE button and BELL ICON now and hit ALL so you get notified at
every upload, because sometimes Youtube breaks and doesn’t send out notifications, but
crossing fingers things will be fixed. Also, don’t forget to hit the LIKE button
every single time including now. It would really mean a lot to me. Thank you, guys! AC Inner Colony, I have left a hidden cookie
for you here, if you would like to watch some extended play footage of the Phoenix Empire
discovering their new water test tube as well as the colony going about their daily activities
in their nest. And now it’s time for the AC Question of
the Week. Last week, we asked: Why does an ant colony need protein? Congratulations to Ruby Raven Gachalife who
correctly answered: Protein helps the larvae grow
and the queen to lay more eggs. Congratulations Ruby, you just won a free
Ultimate Ant Keeping handbook from our shop! In this week’s AC Question of the Week we
ask: What do you look forward to most
in the Phoenix Empire’s future? Leave your answer in the comments section
and you could also win a free e-book handbook from our shop! Hope you could subscribe to our channel as
we upload every Saturday at 8AM EST. Please remember to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, and
SUBSCRIBE if you enjoyed this video, to help us keep making more. It’s ant love forever!

Mating frenzies, sperm hoards, and brood raids: the life of a fire ant queen – Walter R. Tschinkel


It’s June, just after a heavy rainfall, and the sky is filling with creatures
we wouldn’t normally expect to find there. At first glance,
this might be a disturbing sight. But for the lucky males and females
of Solenopsis invicta, otherwise known as fire ants,
it’s a day of romance. This is the nuptial flight, when thousands of reproduction-capable
male and female ants, called alates,
take wing for the first and last time. But even for successful males
who manage to avoid winged predators, this mating frenzy will prove lethal. And for a successfully mated female,
her work is only beginning. Having secured a lifetime supply of sperm
from her departed mate, our new queen must now single-handedly
start an entire colony. Descending to the ground, she searches for a suitable spot
to build her nest. Ideally, she can find somewhere
with loose, easy-to-dig soil— like farmland
already disturbed by human activity. Once she finds the perfect spot,
she breaks off her wings— creating the stubs
that establish her royal status. Then, she starts digging
a descending tunnel ending in a chamber. Here the queen begins laying her eggs,
about ten per day, and the first larvae hatch within a week. Over the next three weeks, the new queen relies on a separate batch
of unfertilized eggs to nourish both herself and her brood, losing half her body weight
in the process. Thankfully, after about 20 days, these larvae grow
into the first generation of workers, ready to forage for food
and sustain their shrunken queen. Her daughters
will have to work quickly though— returning their mother
to good health is urgent. In the surrounding area, dozens of neighboring queens
are building their own ant armies. These colonies
have peacefully coexisted so far, but once workers appear, a phenomenon known as brood-raiding
begins. Workers from nests
up to several meters away begin to steal offspring
from our queen. Our colony retaliates, but new waves of raiders
from even further away overwhelm the workers. Within hours, the raiders have taken
our queen’s entire brood supply to the largest nearby nest— and the queen’s surviving daughters
abandon her. Chasing her last chance of survival, the queen follows the raiding trail
to the winning nest. She fends off other losing queens
and the defending nest’s workers, fighting her way
to the top of the brood pile. Her daughters help their mother succeed
where other queens fail— defeating the reigning monarch,
and usurping the brood pile. Eventually,
all the remaining challengers fail, until only one queen—
and one brood pile— remains. Now presiding over several hundred workers
in the neighborhood’s largest nest, our victorious queen begins
aiding her colony in its primary goal: reproduction. For the next several years,
the colony only produces sterile workers. But once their population
exceeds about 23,000, it changes course. From now on, every spring, the colony will produce
fertile alate males and females. The colony spawns these larger ants
throughout the early summer, and returns to worker production
in the fall. After heavy rainfalls,
these alates take to the skies, and spread their queen’s genes
up to a couple hundred meters downwind. But to contribute
to this annual mating frenzy, the colony must continue to thrive
as one massive super-organism. Every day, younger ants feed the queen
and tend to the brood, while older workers
forage for food and defend the nest. When intruders strike, these older warriors fend them off
using poisonous venom. After rainfalls,
the colony comes together, using the wet dirt to expand their nest. And when a disastrous flood
drowns their home, the sisters band together
into a massive living raft— carrying their queen to safety. But no matter how resilient, the life of a colony must come to an end. After about 8 years,
our queen runs out of sperm and can no longer replace dying workers. The nest’s population dwindles,
and eventually, they’re taken over
by a neighboring colony. Our queen’s reign is over,
but her genetic legacy lives on.