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Archive for August 23rd, 2013

GO TO PART 14

Polyergus breviceps parasitic queen

Point: Contrary to the spirit of our age, the New Testament has a lot to say about false teaching and false teachers.  Believers are to be on the alert for them, to resist false doctrines , refute them, warn others about it and not to fellowship with false teachers.  Sometimes Christians today lack discernment and often will just let false teachers go because they use Christian vocabulary with different meanings; that is, false teachers have a pass among some Christians because their false teachings are “sprinkled” with a little bit of Christianese even though the true meaning of their contents are not Christian at all.  It might be appropriate to get the idea across that Christians must be aware of false teachers (be it in the form of a cult leader, compromiser, Liberal or secularists) with the following illustration.

Picture: Polyergus breviceps is a species of ant that is a “social parasite” of three other species of ants: the Formica gnava, Formica occulta and Formica argentea.  According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyergus_breviceps), these ants have

lost its ability to take care of its young and themselves. “The workers do not forage for food, feed the young or the queen, or even clean up their own nest”.[3] In order to survive, Polyergus workers raid Formica nests in order to steal the pupae which once hatched, become workers of the mixed nest.

Sounds like secular humanists who don’t have children of their own but wishes to control other people’s kids ideologically and otherwise, if you ask me.  The Wikipedia page continues,

What makes Polyergus special is the way a newly mated queen can, all by herself, take over a Formica nest and start a new colony.

The way the Queen Ant goes about it is further described:

After finding a Formica nest, she finds an entrance and is immediately attacked by Formica worker. The queen responds by biting with her sharp mandibles and releasing a pheromone from her enlargedDufour’s gland that, unlike many other parasitic ants, has a pacifying effect. The queen quickly searches for and locates the Formica queen and, with her adapted mandibles, proceeds to bite and lick various parts the Formica queen for an average of 25 minutes.[4] “Within seconds of the host queens death, the nest undergoes a most remarkable transformation”.[3] The Formica workers cease to be aggressive to the intruder and start to groom thePolyergus queen as if it were their own.[3] The takeover now complete, the Polyergus queen gains not only a nest, but a worker caste as well. She then lays her eggs and the cycle continues.

How does the Queen ant manage to control these other ants?  There are two important chemical strategies described.

First, the Queen releases a pheromone that reduces the defense of her victims:

Specific to Polyergus, when the queen first enters a Formica nest she releases a pheromone from her enlarged Dufour’s gland. Topoff did experiments to show that this pheromone has an important facilitative effect in colony usurpation; it reduces the aggression of the defending Formica workers. The researchers took the Dufour’s, pygidial, and poison glands from freshly mated Polyergus queens, using water as a negative control. These were crushed in distilled water to make a solution containing their extracts. Because it was impossible to prevent a Polyergus queen from secreting their own pheromones during a live encounter, they used the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex occidentalis (naturally attacked by Formica) as the subject. These ants were dipped in the above solutions, one ant/solution/test at a time, and placed in a petri dish with three Formica occulta “attackers”. They were observed for three minutes to see for how long the Pogonomyrmex was attacked.[5] The results were as follows: “the mean duration of aggression by the Dufour’s gland treatment was 53.3 seconds…The mean duration of aggression for the water, pygidial gland, and poison gland controls were: 143.5 seconds, and 137.2 seconds and 132.2 seconds respectively”.[5]

This is analogous to the tactics of false teachers ability to pacify resistance, whether it’s an appeal to “tolerance,” “unity,” the use of flattery, tickling of the hearer’s ear, etc.

Secondly, the Queen tricks her victims by absorbing the chemical of the original Queen by licking the dead or killed queen:

Topoff and Ellen Zimmerli also did experiments to prove that the Polyergus queen “tricks” the Formica colony by obtaining chemicals from the Formica queen in the process of killing her. In one test, the Formica queen was killed (by flash freezing then thawing) prior to Polyergus contact. Even though it was already dead, the Polyergus queen bit, stabbed, and licked the queen just as if it were alive: and the Polyergus was consequently accepted by the colony.[4] Another test showed that if no Formica queen was present, then Polyergus had little chance of a successful takeover. Clearly, the Formica queen is providing some sort of chemical(s) to the Polyergus queen, however unintentionally. That takeover can occur even if the host queen is dead, but not if she is not present, proves that chemical absorption is important. The Polyergus queen needs only kill one host queen to be accepted. If the colony was polygynistic, the Polyergus queen can take her time finding the other queens. “Hour by hour, day by day, she methodically locates and kills every Formica queen, sometimes taking several weeks to clear out all remnants of opposition”.[3]

 This is analogous to the tactics of false teachers equivocating Christian terminology in order to gain acceptance.

Conclusion

As Christians we must be careful to discern, warn and refute false teachers and their false teaching that comes into our midst and wishes to take over.

 

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