SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Random question: Do ants sleep?

Discussion started on

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region easternny
I know this is a really random question, so I don't necessarily expect to get an answer, but I know some people here have written non-fiction about bugs.

Would it be appropriate to say in a humorous poem that ants don't sleep? I've read that they probably rest for a few minutes at a time and that they tend to go into a lower activity mode in the winter, but they don't sleep like mammals do.

Can I generalize and say that ants work all day and night (without sleeping) in order to highlight how busy and industrious they are (compared to mammals)?

I'd appreciate any advice. Again, I know this is a sort of strange question.

thanks,

Diana

#1 - June 24, 2008, 06:32 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

MaudeStephany

Guest
Oh where oh where is SimplyFi
Oh where oh where can she be?
She would know the answer to this...
Oh where oh where can she be?

Alternately, contact a government office or a pest management company and find out from them....

Maude  :broccoli
#2 - June 24, 2008, 08:01 AM

~wren

Guest
Well, myrmecology is the scientific study of ants, so you could look up a myrmecologist for help -- but I'll bet an entomologist would know, too.
Good luck!
#3 - June 24, 2008, 09:38 AM

Page7

Guest
Diana,
Not only do they sleep, they have recurring nightmares about being stepped on. 

Seriously, I think they sleep or rest for short intervals - not the full eight hours.  It just seems like they don't sleep because different members of the colony work in shifts - so someone is always working while someone else is sleeping. 

 
#4 - June 24, 2008, 09:44 AM

addicted to YA
Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region indiana
  • SCBWI PAL
from the University of Texas in Dallas:  http://www.utdallas.edu/~bam043000/antfaq.html

"Do ants sleep? Yes, they take shifts. Some will sleep while others work. Colonies also hibernate when it gets cold, and the colony will have little to no activity during this time. "
#5 - June 24, 2008, 09:47 AM
XVI, Puffin/Speak, available now
Truth, Puffin/Speak, January 2012
http://juliakarr.com

SimplyFi

Guest
LOL, Maude!  Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I do know a lot of useless facts (I try and stave off the Cliff Claven tendencies ;^), but I'm not an entomologist.   I do become a temporary expert on the subjects I write about, though, so I know more than you'd ever care to know about honeypot ants, but as to whether ants sleep?  Nope...beyond my temporariness, I'm afraid. 

A suggestion from a research junkie...  When looking for something specific like this it can be a needle-in-a-haystacky experience to search for "ants" and try and wade through the wealth of material to find the quirky piece of info you're after.  Try something really specific in the search engines...multiple word phrases (all inside quotes), even the exact question you have .  "Do ants sleep?" for example, will zero in on web pages with that specific info.  You still have to figure out which sites are *reliable*, but it narrows down the field considerably.

Ooo, ~wren, "myrmecology"?  ...a new 'ology' to add to the list.  Thanks!

#6 - June 24, 2008, 10:33 AM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region easternny
(page7, very funny!  :dr )

Thanks for helping me out, guys. Based on my research and your comments it sounds like there's probably too much grey area (or might even be plain wrong) for me to claim they don't sleep.

I had a feeling it was an issue.

And thanks for the additional tips too.

-Diana    :D
#7 - June 24, 2008, 10:50 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region easternny
Oh, so that's the trick! Sing them to sleep...

Well, I was going to compare ants to beavers and joke that ants were even busier but sounds to me like they're lazy bastards!
#8 - June 24, 2008, 12:31 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

Page7

Guest
Well, I was going to compare ants to beavers and joke that ants were even busier but sounds to me like they're lazy bastards!


They can haul rubber tree plants.  They're not lazy.  If you hauled a rubber tree plant, you'd need 40 winks too.  I think you have some leeway here, though.  Keep tinkering.  I'm sure there's some wording that will work, without offending beavers, ants, or any other species.     
#9 - June 24, 2008, 04:23 PM

mswatkins

Guest
Oh buglady... where are you? 
#10 - June 24, 2008, 09:27 PM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region easternny
page 7 - Yes, I'm not too far into it so I have lots of wiggle room.

And for the record, if I did end up going with a fact like that, I would do a more methodical fact check for the final version. Just in case anybody thought this is how I gather information for writing non-fiction. :)

Thanks again to everybody for the help. I love this board!
#11 - June 25, 2008, 05:01 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

wheelertop

Guest
Technically, ants don't sleep. Sleep, as scientists define it, is reserved for warm-blooded animals (ie, birds and mammals). They aren't constantly in motion, but their brains don't do whatever it is that mammals' and birds' brains do that qualifies as sleep (I think it has to do with the loss of consciousness to the environment). Scientists don't really know why we need sleep, except that it may have something to do with the energy involved with being warm-blooded, since only warm-blooded animals do it.
#12 - June 26, 2008, 08:18 PM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region easternny
From what I read, it seems that it's impossible to really test whether their behavior qualifies as "sleeping" because any attempt to measure their tiny brain waves would disrupt their regular activity. It also depends on your definition of "sleep".

But for fiction, I think it makes more sense to refer to them as sleeping, since the only alternative would be to go into a technical explanation.

Kay, I also read that they didn't have eyelids which I thought was really interesting. I mean, of course they don't have eyelids, but until I looked into this, I never gave it any thought.

That's another thing I love about this business. You learn about so many interesting and unusual topics.

-Diana
#13 - June 28, 2008, 06:17 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

I just came across this.

I don't know if ants sleep, but I've been having sleepless night about ants.  My last work was about the little devils and this was a dilemma for me.
Did you ever find out the answer?
#14 - December 12, 2009, 04:55 AM

Don't know how I missed this a year ago.

TEchinically, ants don't sleep, but when you order them through the mail to furnish an ant farm, you are instructed to put them in the fridge for a few minutes to make them "sleepy" before opening the vial of stinging ants.  The cold just makes them slower-moving, though.  Works like a charm on moths, too, if you're trying to get a good photo of one.

Hope you were able to get the answer you needed!


buglady
#15 - December 12, 2009, 09:28 AM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region easternny
Wow! What a blast from the past! I wasn't expecting to see anymore replies to this one. :)

Thanks, Liana (aka buglady). You were the first person I thought of when I posted this.

I ended up changing the story a bit so it wasn't an issue. But I may revisit the original concept.

That's interesting about the refrigerator trick!
#16 - December 12, 2009, 08:11 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

I have been doing a little revising of some my old work because I am slightly stuck in writer's block.  I have a story featuring insects and have a query:is it true that ants can carry 100 times their body weight?  It is quite central to the climax in the story and I would happy.  Otherwise it is back to  :banghead
#17 - February 28, 2010, 09:23 AM

Liz
Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region indiana
Ants can carry 10 to 20 percent of their weight.  :cricket2
#18 - February 28, 2010, 05:08 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.lizstrawwrites.com/

KenH

Guest
One of my favorite e. e. cummings (from memory):

"i once overheard a colony of ants that had been partially obliterated by a cow's foot seriously contemplating the intent of the gods upon their civilization."

So, while they may (or may not) sleep, apparently they do practice religion.
#19 - February 28, 2010, 05:17 PM

My book resources vary.  Some say 20x, some say 50x, and most say 100x.  (I wonder if it varies with species?)  But check out this pic:

http://gizmodo.com/5479060/ant-lifts-weight-100-times-heavier-than-own-body-weight-in-ant-worlds-jersey-shore-try+outs

And be careful how you word it.  If you say they can lift "20% of their body weight," you're implying that they can only lift things that weight one-fifth of what they weigh.  But if you say they can lift "20 times their body weight," you'r eimplyng that they can lift items that are the weight of their own body multiplied by twenty.

buglady
#20 - February 28, 2010, 06:01 PM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region easternny
Love that, pengwinz! A very poignant comparison. Good 'ol e.e.

Liana, that photo is amazing. I haven't researched this for a while now, but I remember reading something about how it has to do with their relative size and proportion. It probably doesn't matter for the purpose of a pb. I just remember there being some tricky physics to it.

#21 - February 28, 2010, 09:04 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

New!
Thanks also from me me, Buglady.  I wrote a story years back where the central characters were amongst a colony of ants.  I haven't looked at it for about 3 years.  I might just dig it out, get my pen and do some revision. :yourock
I am just about to revise (again!).  Got any suggestions for something nice that an ant can eat before the battery on my laptop dies?
Thanks
PS: the things we do in the name of our craft!  I have just registered onto an  antkeeping forum in order to get all the facts needed to revise my story.  Hopefully I can get the information I want, including whether ants sleep or not.  I will let you know if I succeed in my quest. :cricket  Wrong bug, but never mind.
#22 - March 01, 2010, 03:51 AM
« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 08:58 AM by thunderingelephants »

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.