Millions Of Ants Fall Into A Nuclear Bunker And Form A Colony
You know how ants work, right? Each colony has a queen, maybe multiple queens. Worker ants leave the nest and forage for food. The queens lay thousands of eggs, the eggs hatch, and that's how you get ants.
Food and reproduction—you need both of those to keep a colony going, obviously. But Polish scientists stumbled on an ant colony that gets by with neither of those, and this colony happens to live somewhere kind of terrifying.
The scientists slipped into an abandoned nuclear bunker in the village of Templewo, a bunker they technically weren't allowed to enter, but they entered anyway, in the name of science. They were investigating bats, and they also found ants. First, they saw a massive colony on the outside of the bunker. This came as no surprise since the bunker's in the middle of a forest. They also found a colony deep inside the bunker, which did come as a surprise. Inside the bunker, there's no light, no food, and no way out.
What happens is that every year, the nest on top grows, and a bunch of worker ants fall through a pipe and land down inside the bunker. From there, there's no escape, so they join the colony millions of ants strong. The colony has no queens, just sterile females. Their population is maintained totally by other ants falling from above.
The ants appear to have no food. Possibly, the ants feed on tiny mites, which in turn feed on the bodies of dead ants. There are a lot of dead ants, no question about that, which pile on top of each other, forming a layer several centimeters thick. But that's really not a sustainable food cycle when you think about it. It's also possible that ants get the occasional meal out of bat guano, but scientists saw no sign of this.
It's a creepy situation, though not nearly as creepy as the situation that a nuclear weapons bunker was intended to deal with. We never did use that bunker's missiles to kill everyone in the world, so the colony's there now to remind us that life finds a way.
This fact came from the new One Cracked Fact newsletter. Want more like this, straight from your email inbox, without any ads or popups? Join here:
For more antics, see also:
Top image: Peter F. Wolf/Unsplash