Waste-Disposal Experts of the Insect World

JUST over 150 years ago, humans began to develop elaborate sewage and waste-disposal systems. However, there already was an expert in garbage disposal​—a little ant found in tropical America.

A typical million-strong community of leaf-cutting ants lives in a large underground nest. Various members of the work force have different assignments. Some ants collect leaf fragments, which another group chew into a pulp. The gardener ants use the pulp to cultivate edible fungus inside chambers in the nest. They also weed out anything that could spread infection, such as pest fungi, dead or dying ants, and decaying material. But how do the ants dispose of their garbage?

British scientists at the University of Sheffield have found the answer, reports The Independent newspaper. Close to the garden chambers are larger chambers where the waste is stored. Ants that work with the garbage spend their lives there, turning the waste over to aid decomposition, which in turn destroys disease-causing bacteria. The gardener ants never enter the garbage chambers. They bring the waste into a tunnel, and the garbage workers collect it. This effective waste management system prevents any risk of contamination and protects the colony’s health.

Jehovah God not only created insects with instinctive wisdom but also gave the Israelites practical health guidelines over 3,500 years ago. The application of these laws would prevent contamination of food and water supplies, stop the spread of infectious diseases, and ensure safe disposal of sewage. How much suffering and death could be avoided by following such principles!​—Leviticus 11:32-38; Numbers 19:11, 12; Deuteronomy 23:9-14.