Ants and the Art of War 


By Mark W. Moffett M. W. モフェット
English 日本語 日本語
The raging combatants form a blur on all sides. the scale of the violence is almost incomprehensible, the battle stretching beyond my field of view. Tens of thousands sweep ahead with a suicidal single-mindedness. Utterly devoted to duty, the fighters never retreat from a confrontation—even in the face of certain death. The engagements are brief and brutal. Suddenly, three foot soldiers grab an enemy and hold it in place until one of the bigger warriors advances and cleaves the captive’s body, leaving it smashed and oozing.  荒れ狂う兵士たちが,あたり一面を覆い尽くす。戦乱は視界の外まで広がっており,どれほどの規模なのか見当もつかない。何万もの兵士が捨て身で一心不乱に突き進んでいく。彼らは使命に身を捧げ,死を目の前にしても退こうとはしない。戦闘は短く,そして残酷だ。3人の歩兵が敵をつかんで押さえ込むと,大きな兵士が出てきて敵の体を引き裂き,後にはズタズタになった遺骸と体液だけが残された。
I back off with my camera, gasping in the humid air of the Malaysian rain forest, and remind myself that the rivals are ants, not humans. I have spent months documenting such deaths through a field camera that I use as a microscope, yet I still find it easy to forget that I am watching tiny insects—in this case, a species known as Pheidologeton diversus, the marauder ant.  マレーシアの熱帯雨林のじっとりとした空気の中で,私はカメラを構えたまま後ずさりし,息をのんだ。そして,戦っているのは人間ではなくアリなのだと自分に言い聞かせた。私はカメラを顕微鏡代わりに使ってこうした死闘を何カ月も撮影してきたが,それでも自分が見ているのが小さな昆虫であることをつい忘れてしまう。先程の兵士たちは“襲撃者”の異名を持つヨコヅナアリ(Pheidologeton diversus)だ。
Scientists have long known that certain kinds of ants (and termites) form tight-knit societies with members numbering in the millions and that these insects engage in complex behaviors. Such practices include traffic management, public health efforts, crop domestication and, perhaps most intriguingly, warfare: the concentrated engagement of group against group in which both sides risk wholesale destruction. Indeed, in these respects and others, we modern humans more closely resemble ants than our closest living relatives, the apes, which live in far smaller societies. Only recently, however, have researchers begun to appreciate just how closely the war strategies of ants mirror our own. It turns out that for ants, as for humans, warfare involves an astonishing array of tactical choices about methods of attack and strategic decisions about when or where to wage war.  ある種のアリ(とシロアリ)は数百万匹も集まって緊密に結束した社会を形成し,複雑な活動を営んでいることが知られている。輸送の管理や公衆衛生,作物の栽培など様々な活動の中でおそらく最も興味深いのは,戦争をすることだ。集団どうしが壊滅の危険を顧みず,激戦を展開する。実際,これらを含む様々な点で,私たち現生人類は近縁種である類人猿よりもむしろアリに似ている。類人猿の社会は人間やアリの社会に比べずっと小さい。
Shock and Awe
Remarkably, these similarities in warfare exist despite sharp differences between ants and humans in both biology and societal structure. Ant colonies consist mostly of sterile females that function as workers or soldiers, occasionally a few short-lived males that serve as drones, and one or more fertile queens. Members operate without a power hierarchy or permanent leader. Although queens are the center of colony life because they reproduce, they do not lead troops or organize labor. Rather colonies are decentralized, with workers that individually know little making combat decisions that nonetheless prove effective at the group level without oversight—a process called swarm intelligence. But although ants and humans have divergent lifestyles, they fight their foes for many of the same economic reasons, including access to dwelling spaces, territory, food and even labor—certain ant species kidnap competitors to serve as slaves.