Article Overview:   When 100 million-year-old army ants go on the march, are they Soldiers of Vigilance or Soldiers of Terrorism?  Find out how America and Army Ants sweep the forest clean of Terrorism.


Saturday--May 10, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 605
 Army Ants--100 Million-Year- Old Terrorists Haven't Evolved
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, NEW YORK, NY--They are as old as the dinosaurs and far more vicious.   They can eat through anything and will, and have.   Some call them the piranha of land, marching through time like a giant mouth eating all and everything in sight.  They are the army ants, whose genetic history reveals they have not evolved over the past 100 years.  They are indeed, living dinosaurs of the insect world.

Echiton burchelli - Soldier Ant

       Some say, they are the insect world's Beast of Terror.
       Researchers call the army ants the "ultimate coalition force" for they band together in the millions to cut a swath through nature, driving their prey into a fearful race with death.  Stumbling and falling before their columns means certain death.

Army Ants structuring bridges with their bodies make  the trail smoother for following ants

      Sean Brady, a postdoctoral candidate in entomology at Cornell University, recently confirmed through DNA studies that army ants have not changed a bit over the past 100 million years.
       What makes them a "Beast of Insect Terror" are three distinct characteristics that separate them from all other ants.  The first is that they forage for prey without advance scouting.  That is, they will eat anything in sight.  They are indiscriminate in their hunger, similar to a Terrorist who doesn't care who he kills when pulls the trigger on his suicide bomb wrapped around his chest.
        The second factor is they are nomadic.   They have no "home."  Similar to Terrorist groups, they belong to no nation.  They have no borders.  They can live anywhere and strike their targets without concern for any homeland.   You can't destroy their enclaves and expect them to disappear, for they will pop up here and there.  They are "homeless Terrorists."

The Fire Ant Queen is a scientific enigma

       Finally, their queen is wingless.   She doesn't fly and can produce up to four million eggs per month.   She produces an enigma for scientists.   Most scientists believed the army ant had to evolve over time since its queen couldn't fly, limiting its ability to migrate.   Not true.   The queen of ant Terrorism today is just like her original mother 100 million years ago when the dinosaurs ruled.   The insects march to where ever they want to go, and eat their way through all who get in the way.
       Researchers explain the spread of the army ants was caused by the breakup of a supercontinet, Gondwana, about a tenth of a billion years ago. 
        Army ants can be found from South America to Mexico.  They can be found in abundance in humid lowland forests of Peru and Brazil.   Their prey includes tarantulas, scorpions beetles, roaches, grasshoppers and other ants and insects.   When they eat their way out of one area, they bivouac new sites and launch on an endless swarm to consume other prey.

Diagram of Army Ants on the move

       As with the war in Iraq, the army ants have an air force that is devastating.   However, the air power is aimed at the ants as well as their prey.   The South American army ant is followed during its swarming behavior by what are called "antbirds."  These flocks feed on the army ants that move about 100 to 200 meters a day, eating the army ants as well as what the army ants are eating.   Between the two forces, the birds and ants, jungles are decimated.

Swarming Terrorist Ants

       One report likens an attack by army ants similar to being preyed upon by a pack of 50,000 hungry wolves.   "That's how an insect that finds itself in the path of a colony of army ant feels," the report says.
        Coalitions are formed between the driver ants of Africa and army ants from South America who cling tightly to one another (in large groups of 10,000 to 500,000) as they travel across the land looking for food.    They will attack any animal that gets in the way, and have been known to kill lizards, birds, snakes, pigs and sometimes animals as large as horses if caught off guard or sleeping.
         Villages like the ants.
          When they come, villagers leave and let the ants swarm over their homes, returning afterwards to a completely insect-free home.   Some consider the army ants nature's pest control monitors.  Myths have it that if a human being is old or passed out from alcohol when the ants come, and do not move, they can be eaten.
          Bottom line, one can view army ants as Terrorists or as vacuum cleaners.   To their prey, they create Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the Triads of Terrorism.   When army ants are  on the move, the jungle screams of creatures warning others of the impending dangers.  The sounds are similar to air raid sirens over Baghdad.  
          Metaphorically, the army ants cleanse the forest for new growth.   Part of what they do is good and part bad.   They offer the forest regeneration, not unlike a brush fire that burns away the old undergrowth to make room for the new.  To residents in the jungle, they free the environment of insects.

American Army Ants were led to victory by General Tommy Franks

  To some, they are Terrorists, and to others, Soldiers of Vigilance, nature's exterminators, her pest control allies.

           The recent attack on Iraq by the U.S. may be seen by some as "American Army Ants" swarming through the land, destroying the Insects of Terrorism.   Long columns of American, British and Australian troops sweeping through the land is not different from the army ants.    Nor are the looters.  Like the "antbirds" that follow the swarms of army ants, the looters fell behind the invading forces, picking cleans the bones of Iraq.

           It is also reasonable to say that America is Terrorism's Extermination Crew.   Not only has America shown the world the capacity of its primal forces to swarm into a country and level it free of the Insects of Terrorism, but also its willingness to do it again if necessary.

Fire Ants and the American Army Ants eat the heart of Terrorism in the world's jungles

        The world's jungle is screaming today.   Nations, once feeling safe because the United Nations did nothing but talk about retaliation against uncivilized actions by leaders and despots, now shudder.  They know American Army Ants have a voracious appetite to consume the Insects of Terrorism, and will, given the right situation, swarm into their lands and eat out the heart of Terrorism.
          The military's deck of 59 cards citing the top Iraq officials is a ironic signal to all leaders and sub-leaders of totalitarian nations that their faces could appear on a deck of cards, and they too could be hunted down one-by-one until the Army Ants were sated.
          I find the symbolism of the Army Ants and America interesting.   For millions of years the Beast of Terror has marched through the world leaving a trail of destruction.   For the first time in history one nation has assumed the duty and responsibility to halt that forward motion.

Antbirds feed on  flushed out insects following the swarm raids of army ants

     And like the Army Ants, America is willing to forage anywhere in the world for Terrorism.   It can strike in the Middle East or Asia in a blink.    The swiftness of the action in Iraq was not different from the tactics of the Army Ants--move forward, forward, forward.


Russia, France and Germany want to eat the Iraqi War's leftovers like antbirds who follow the Army Ants

         And, one might call Russia, France and Germany's attempts to stick their fingers into the Iraqi war pie a parallel to the antbirds who follow the Army Ants, eating what is left over.   They might be called the Vultures of Iraq, eager to feast on the carcass but not willing to join in on the front-line battles.


Villagers are elated...........

        Then there are the villagers who are elated that the Army Ants have rid Iraq of the Insects of Terrorism.    The jubilation in the streets of Baghdad over Saddam's fall from power was similar to a village dancing in the wake of the army ants.    For a few chaotic days, in months they would be free of pesky insects that Terrorize them day and night.    They would be free of swatting them, the sores they cause and the worry of the diseases they inflict.  


...that the Army Ants have rid Iraq of the Insects of Terrorism

         Long ago, army ants were created by some great engineer of nature who chose not to alter their genes.  They are driven by the same forces that created them, unchanged DNA that makes them clean things.
          America has a legacy.  It has always made a choice to clean the world of Terrorism.  In World I, II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and now Iraq, despite all the critics who want to propose America has other agendas, the big one has been freedom:   Cleanse the world of its insects.
          Perhaps America is the Army Ant of Vigilance.

Perhaps all the Army Ants are Soldiers of Vigilance

          Perhaps we have a genetic duty like the army ant to keep the forest of Terrorism cleansed.
          Maybe all the army ants are Soldiers of Vigilance rather than Terrorists.
          Time will tell.
          In the interim, the people of Iraq are free from the insects of Saddam.   New ones might evolve, but for now, the exterminators of Terrorism have done their job.




May 9--Teenage Prisoners Of The Beast Of Terror

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