This is a typical strip of grass between parking areas in a parking lot in Washington State. In the picture below, one can see a brown patch of “dirt.”
As I got closer to this brown patch I realized that the brown patch was ALIVE. Yes, everything visible in the picture at the base of the tree that is dark in color is ANTS!
These are thatching ants and the large mound has been in place for quite a while as is evidenced by the grass and other vegetation growing up the sides of the mound. The activity on the surface of the mound would increase and decrease as the sun went in and out behind the clouds.
As I watched their activity it seemed almost incomprehensible that each one of these ants, on a genetic level, knows exactly what it is doing. What appears as total chaos to the observer from above is most likely not the truth at all.
When we extrapolate this mass of interactions to human activities, it certainly gives one reason to pause regarding notions of “individuality.” If one were to look down from above at the activities of human beings wouldn’t it seem this chaotic?
On some level, is the mass of human activity following unseen laws or rules that would actually make sense if we were capable of seeing the whole picture? Would human activity be “truly” chaotic as opposed to the very ordered chaos of the ants?
Here is another picture of a Thatching Ant nest I found on Whidbey Island. These nests are very common in Washington State and can be very large. This one is at least 24 inches tall and 36 inches in diameter.
The darker shadowy arc visible on the left side of the mound is actually a covering of ants as they stay out of the direct sun. The entire mound is constructed of bits of grass and twigs—-which is a bit like “thatch” and has earned them the name of Thatching Ants.
These ants take “finding oneself” to a whole new level.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle