Hopefully, you’re all reading this on Thursday the 6th from your homes with power and internet restored after Hurricane Ian swept across our state. Meteorologists say it was the most powerful and devastating storm to come from the Gulf side that we’ve ever known. Millions without power; thousands trapped on barrier islands like Sanibel and Pine Island cut off from the mainland; hundreds repairing damaged homes.
More than 100 people have lost their lives so far and the estimates of damage fall into billions of dollars. Experts estimate the repair of the Sanibel Causeway alone will cost more than constructing the entire structure less than 20 years ago.
It’s times like these when communities must come together and help each other out. We set aside our differences and unite to rebuild and recover.
It may seem odd at a time like this, but there are several insect populations we can look to as a model – both for now and for continuing community once we’re past the crises.
According to entomologists, 75% of the world’s bug species are ‘true’ social insects. That means they have overlapping generations, cooperative brood care, and a sterile worker caste. Now obviously, those don’t all apply to us or insects we see as social.
But it does apply to bees, termites, and ants. And they have lessons for us.
Bees, for example, are probably our favorite of the community of insects, as long as we don’t get stung, which in itself is a lesson. While wasps and hornets can be aggressive for no apparent reason, bees only use their stingers when they’re defending the hive, and it literally costs them their life to do so. So, maybe we should live more like bees, only attacking when it’s for the common good of the community – and worth the sacrifice.
Bees are experts on teamwork and work ethic. The whole hive comes together, and while each bee fulfills their purpose within the whole, it is the whole that they all work hard for.
When you’re looking for a good communicator, bees are at the top of the list. With movement and odors they send a volume of knowledge to the other bees on where to find food and safe, clean water and how far away it is. They also share when there is danger, additional needs, or the queen’s death.
Look to the Ants
There are few insects more instantaneously adaptable than the ants. Think about the fire ants in your Florida yard. If the mound gets kicked over, the ants that swarm out have two purposes – stop the attack (with a bite!) and start rebuilding. Within minutes they’ve rebuilt the mound, and if it gets trampled or mown over again, they’ll quickly relocate. They don’t even think twice.
Ants are also incredible planners – hence most of Solomon’s Biblical praise. They don’t wait for the disaster; they plan ahead for eventualities and store up food and other resources for winter and emergencies.
Ants work together to overcome any obstacle. Most ants can carry about 20 times their body weight (some as much as 100x!), and together they can move literal (to them) mountains. They don’t complain, they never give up, and they don’t let themselves get distracted by diversions. They. Keep. Going.
Small, But Ter-Mighty
Did you know scientists consider termites to be the most successful creatures on the planet? They don’t just eat wood and destroy our homes, they’re remarkably efficient and….noble, in their own way. We don’t see these in Florida, but in South America, Australia, and Africa termites construct huge above-ground mounds that are climate controlled in order to grow certain fungi that helps with their digestion. As a side effect, they help create more arid land in those deserts.
To build those mounds, termites work together to move mud balls more than 300 times heavier than they are and suck up hundreds of gallons of water to move them into location.
Termites also care for their young. Not only the ones they hatched, but collectively the swarm cares for the younger generation until they’re old and strong enough to care for themselves. No termite is left behind.
As we look to the calm after the storm and rebuilding our rich, diverse community along the Gulf Coast of Florida, may we come together as our insect neighbors always have.
If you thought we were finally getting back to the ‘new normal’ after the pandemic, Hurricane Ian proved that there is no real “normal”. We must learn to adapt like the ants, communicate like the bees, and care for each other and our children as the termites do. And above all, we need to work together to rebuild, just as all of these insects do.
Good News Pest Solutions is a pest control company, but even more so we are called by our faith in Jesus to be involved in our community. We’re here with you. If you need prayer, help or assistance in this time of crisis, please reach out. We’ll do what we can.
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