I am a high school English teacher currently reading Ishmael with my 10th graders. We were discussing Ishmael’s idea that man is the only animal that breaks the law of limited competition—kills off other animals’ food sources or other organisms that are not his specific food source—in order to keep his food source plentiful.
One of my bright students shared a video that he had seen in a science class. The video is called The Evolutionary Arms Race (aired on PBS, WGBH 2001) and the part he shared was the practice of the tropical leaf cutter ant.
These ants cut leaves and carry them to their nests to feed them to a fungus which the ants in turn eat. In the process of feeding and caring for the fungus, ants seemed to develop a sort of white sticky film on their bodies.
It was discovered that the fungus has a predator—a mold. This white sticky film is a bacteria secreted by the ants that kills the mold. So the ant secretes an organic pesticide to get rid of a weed it doesn’t want growing in its garden.In your opinion, would these ants be breaking the law of limited competition?