Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday Shorts: Ant Power

Something I read this week brought to mind the song “High Hopes,” the Academy Award-winning theme song of the 1959 film “A Hole in the Head.” The song’s lyrics celebrate the ability of one “little old ant” to “move a rubber tree plant.”

Armies of Ants Keep New York Squeaky Clean,” an article that appeared online in NewScientist Life on December 3, reported that ants and other arthropods remove a significant amount of food litter dropped in New York streets. Researchers from North Carolina State University placed potato chips, cookies, and hot dogs at dozens of sites in Manhattan and discovered that arthropods removed as much as 59 percent of the food within the space of a day! The authors of the study termed the contribution of ants to keeping Manhattan’s streets clean “modest, but notable.”  

Entomologist May Berenbaum, University of Illinois faculty member and recent recipient of the National Medal of Science, was quoted in the article as saying: "Recycling is among the least glamorous of ecosystem services provided by arthropods, and this was a great study highlighting both its magnitude and importance.”

A Google search for the number of ants in the world turned up this estimate: 100 trillion! Just think of the possibilities if we could somehow harness a fraction of that power!

Why Saturday Short Subjects? Some readers may recall  being dropped at the movie theater for the Saturday matinee — two action-packed feature films with a series of short subjects (cartoons or short movies, sometimes a serial cliffhanger) sandwiched in between. Often the short subjects were the most memorable, and enjoyable, part of the morning. That explains the name. The reason behind these particular posts is that we are all short on time. My Short Subject posts should not take me as long to write or you as long to read (or try).

No comments:

Post a Comment