Ant no love like a mother’s love…A mother ant shows off her strength and agility as she plays with her young child and lifts it above her head. The yellow ant stood on a delicate purple flower and balanced on her back two legs as she juggled the youngster, who is a third her size. Photographer Adegsm (real name Thanh Ta Quang), who took over 2,000 snaps of the ants in a month but only got a handful of pictures he was happy with. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS…Main pic: The ‘mother’ ant lifts her youngster above her head…Please byline: Pic: Adegsm /Solent..© Adegsm/Solent.UK +44 (0) 2380 458800.
This is hilariously misinformed for several reasons, a fact that may not be obvious to those who are woefully unaware of the ant and its ways. Lemme break it down:
1) Mothers (i.e. queens) in ant colonies are physically distinct, and noticeably so, from their worker ant “children”. They typically have a proportionally larger middle section (mesosoma), and wings, or scars from the removal of their wings after mating. Compare these two individuals below (images from Antweb):
Worker (of a related taxon):
Queen (“mother”), winged:
2) In the ant community, younger doesn’t mean smaller. Individuals emerge from their pupae fully formed, and don’t grow as they age. They will sometimes darken in color. Size differences at the worker level instead arise from caste differences (individuals with different roles as part of the nest) or simply nest variation in worker size.
3) This is clearly a photoshopped picture. As Dr. James Trager points out in the comments section of Wild’s blog, these are weaver ants, and likely “the smaller ant was walking (hanging) around on its lower portion, perhaps getting in position to pull two leaves together”.
To give the photographer an iota of the benefit of the doubt, the end of the caption does read ” ‘mother’ ” in quotations, so it is possible he/she knew there were no queens present in the picture. Either way, the caption, and photo itself, are highly misleading to the myrmecologically uninformed masses!