|“|| In a few miles of this forest there must be more ants than there are men in the whole world! This seemed to Holroyd a perfectly new idea. In a few thousand years men had emerged from barbarism to a stage of civilisation that made them feel lords of the future and masters of the earth! But what was to prevent the ants evolving also? Such ants as one knew lived in little communities of a few thousand individuals, made no concerted efforts against the greater world. But they had a language, they had an intelligence! Why should things stop at that any more than men had stopped at the barbaric stage? Suppose presently the ants began to store knowledge, just as men had done by means of books and records, use weapons, form great empires, sustain a planned and organised war?||”|
— H. G. Wells, "Empire of the Ants" (1905)
|Average length||5 cm|
|Place of origin||Brazil|
|Behind the Scenes|
|Universe||Empire of the Ants|
|Created by||H. G. Wells|
This is a new species of large, sapient predatory ants originally discovered in the Brazilian Amazon. They're referred to by the natives as Saüba.
These ants are larger than any other species, averaging 5 cm or more. They're black in coloration and some of the larger individuals appear to cover themselves in pieces of grey-colored cloth, possibly as a sort of military uniform and/or a symbol of authority or status. They've also been described as moving around "with a steady deliberation very different from the mechanical fussiness of the common ant".
Like army ants, though, they're known to aggregate in swarms and can completely blanket over an area, devouring anything that crosses their path. Even humans who step in the ants' territory will soon find themselves covered from head to toe. Victims of these ants are doomed: even if they manage to jump into a nearby river to drown the insects, they will still end up dead from the accumulated venomous bites.
The ants also have proportionally big eyes and well-developed eyesight; and according to local accounts, will sometimes stay in the corners and watch what humans are doing. Once they conquer a territory they won't just eat everything available and leave, but actually settle there, while sending new troops to expand their domains.
The commander ants, which make up about one twentieth of the troops, are both larger and have proportionally larger heads than the others - indicating that they might be the most intelligent ones. They've also been observed to tilt their bodies back in order to make use of their forelegs, possibly to gesticulate commands to the common soldiers.
As the intelligent ants have expanded their domains over the Amazon, they have managed to drive men away by covering the entirety of crops and settlements. The Brazilian government has been powerless to stop them, and it's expected that they will soon reach British Guyana. As they've demonstrated the capacity to withstand war with humans and even capture ships, it is believed that they may have a chance of conquering the whole South America, and from there set sail to the other continents.
- "Empire of the Ants", by H. G. Wells (1905)
- Giant Ants from the 1977 film of the same name.