They say giant bug movies are unrealistic for reasons of biology and physics. Okay, I’m cool with that.
I’ve watched many giant bug movies, including Them, of course, and I’ve been thinking about giant ants.
Because if you aren’t thinking about giant ants, then you aren’t thinking hard.
In many of these movies, the ants (and other bugs) are huge. Like twenty feet or bigger.
This is a conceit the writers offer, because they know that we know that a twenty-foot ant is kinda impossible-ish.
Which got me thinking about giant ants. Like I said.
Ants are fast. Crazy-ass fast. Surely you’ve watched how fast they are. Try to imagine you running the same speed, scaled. You would be like Flash’s faster sister, but faster. And they do this without ever tripping over the four extra legs we don’t even have, whereas one Chicken McNugget is enough to make us stumble.
Ants are strong. We’ve all heard the stories, right, that they can lift ten times their weight? Let me tell you a secret: not only are those stories true, but it’s also the case that ants are cooperative hunters. Humans can’t even figure that shit out, but ants have had it down pat for millions of years. Humans can’t even count to a million. I once watched a colony of ants dragging a rattlesnake into their hole. A rattlesnake. It had been killed, perhaps by them, but this was a group effort to strip the rattlesnake of all useful parts — and it was succeeding!
Isn’t that worth pondering?
Ultra fast cooperative hunters with venomous bites (and some have stings) who can lift ten times their weight, but can move much much more by acting cooperatively to feed their enormous hungry queen deep in her underground lair.
But wait, there’s more.
So, I asked myself “Okay, so if all this terror can’t work in the twenty-foot model, what’s next?” and in true Problem-Solving Mode, I posed myself the following question: “What would be the minimum size for an ant such that colonies of them comparable in size to the colonies we have now would actually be a threat to humanity?”
Within a few seconds, my fevered brain kicked out the answer: 7″.
If ants increased in size to approximately 7″, then I think — given their speed, ferocity, and innate ability toward organized mayhem and terror — we would be threatened by them.
Spread your fingers wide apart, assuming you have a hand. That’s about the distance between the tip of your thumb and the tip of your pinky. Imagine an ant that big. Imagine a hundred of them — or a thousand — pouring into the building you thought you had secured, biting you, injecting formic acid into your dying agonized body, and then stripping your bones of all soft tissue in a matter of a few hours.
If you’re like me, you’re cowering behind the one security blanket remaining. You’re saying “Ah, thank goodness giant insects can’t exist.”
Can an ant get to 7″ without violating those rules that say insect bodies can’t get to giant size?
Oh, but maybe that’s only ancient fossilized ants, you say. Ants nowadays couldn’t get big enough to cause trouble…
The only two words you need right now, when contemplating this situation are these: