The Ant

The Ant

An insect we are all familiar with is the tiny ant. We see them all the time during the pleasant weather months. They inhabit our flowerbeds, our lawns, and sometimes if we are a bit untidy, even our kitchens. They come in a variety of sizes and colors and most are beneficial to mankind. However, rarely does the ant come up in the context of origins. This article will discuss ants in the context of origins and attempt to demonstrate how it challenges evolutionary thought.

Ants are members of Class Insecta and are thus classified as Insects. Their Family classification is Hymenoptera, which roughly translated from the original Greek means “membrane winged” insects.  Family Hymenoptera is referred to as the social insects, because insects in this family live in colonies, often large ones. However, ants are distinct from the bees and wasps that inhabit the rest of the family in that the majority of ants lack wings. In most species only the queen ants, and sometimes the drones, the males she mates with, have wings. The vast majority of an ant colony consists of non-mating females which are specialized into workers and soldiers. Generally worker ants are the ants we see. Their job is to provide food for the colony. Some workers also take care of the eggs and larva of a colony.  Soldier ants are tasked with protecting the colony from any threats. Distinguishing between workers and soldiers is somewhat arbitrary because workers around the colony graduate into soldiers, which then graduate back into workers as they age. Never the less, if an animal digs up the colony, it will be the soldier ants swarming the invader in an attempt to drive it away with millions of tiny bites. The soldiers goal is to protect the colony at any cost, particularly the queen. The queen ant is the lifeblood of the colony. She lays all the eggs that become the soldiers, drones and workers. If the queen is killed, some colonies simply die. Others survive by having a worker or soldier ant replace the queen.  The queen mates with a single drone to produce the fertilized eggs. The other drones are utterly useless and simply take up food.  Fertilized eggs will hatch into queens, soldiers and workers, while unfertilized eggs will hatch into drones.

Ant reproduction is a very interesting process. Partially addressed above, the ant goes through some very unique reproductive stages. Fertilized eggs will develop into females, while unfertilized eggs will develop into males. This system of reproduction is different than what we normally see in animals with backbones. When the eggs hatch, they will go through the process of complete metamorphosis. The stage entered upon hatching is the larval phase.  The larva must be cared for by the worker ants, including fed through a special process in which the workers regurgitate food onto the newly hatched larva.  The larva need a specialized environment to grow, with closely regulated temperatures. Thus the worker ants frequently will move larva around to areas of the colony more closely matching the desired temperature.  In some species, the larva develop into the respective classes of ant based on the food they eat. This is provided based on the colonies needs.  If the larva develop into a queen, they could live as long as thirty years. By contrast, drones live mere weeks. Ant colonies last as long as their queens.

Ants, as insects, share the general insect body plan of three distinct body parts. The head consists of the most obvious features such as the eyes, the antenna and the mandibles. The mandibles are used for carrying food or grinding it for swallowing. The compound eyes are excellent for detecting movement, but not much else. Ants do not hear. Instead, they sense vibrations in the ground to determine where things are coming from. The antenna are used for this purpose, along with detecting chemicals and wind. The next body part is the thorax, to which all six legs are attached. The final part is the abdomen to which any stinger is attached.

As colonial creatures, communication is key to ants survival. They communicate using specialized chemicals called pheromones, as well as touch and special clicking noises produced by the mandibles. The pheromones are a very specialized form of communication. Ants use them in multiple ways. Worker ants mark the trail back to their colonies with pheromones, which explains why ants rarely get lost, despite wandering over large swaths of territory for such a little creature. These pheromone trails are followed by other ants as well. Pheromones also are excreted in the regurgitated food and in interactions within the colony. When the queen stops producing a particular pheromone, worker ants within the colony will begin to rear up a new queen to replace her.

Ants are very unique creatures. They actively teach new worker ants how to perform their tasks.  Some colonies grow their own food, milking aphids or caterpillars for a special fluid known as honeydew.  Other species are used to harvest seeds for humans, which are removed from the colonies when the ants bring them back. The ant has incredible versatility and a wide range of uses for humanity.

There is much more to discuss regarding ants but the above is the basics of ant life and reproduction. Let us move into the origin of ants. Evolutionists claim that ants evolved from wasps. This claim is utterly unsupported by any evidence. In fact, it is likely the wasp and ant are not even the same kind of organism. That aside, ants have so many unique characteristics that require an explanation that simply calling them evolved wasps will not do. Ants actively train new workers. Where did they learn to do that? What evolutionary process put training knowledge in the tiny brains of ant workers? What taught ants to leave a pheromone trail to find their way home? How do they know to move their larva throughout the colony so that they develop at just the right temperature? And how does a lack of a pheromone tell the worker ants to prepare a new queen? What caused the first ants to move into a colony and then develop the elaborate social system they are known for? How did ants develop the ability to herd caterpillars and aphids to milk them for food? Evolution must have answers to all of these questions, yet the best they can come up with is that ants are descended from wasps.

Creationists have no such problem with ants. They were created to function exactly how they do.  They were designed to use their pheromones exactly in the fashion that they do and to train the next generation just as they do. A Creator God would have taken care of all these details, unlike a blind chance random process. Ants clearly attest to the design of God’s creation.

 

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