A War of Ants and Grasshoppers

A parable on the difference between motives and ecological niches. 

"No, we really did have food stored up for the winter. But at the end of autumn, we went to war with a nearby colony. They defeated our warriors, carried off our larvae to raise as drones, and I was lucky to escape with my own life."

"Perhaps the grasshopper was more clever than I thought; without working a day, it manipulated the ants into war, and feasted on the neglected food stores."

"I guess the grasshopper could have eaten some of our food, but it didn't really interact with us OR the other colony as far as I can tell, just hopped about minding its own business. Our foragers encountered ants from the other colony by chance, and from that point war was inevitable."

"I see, you're saying that the colony that cultivated warrior prowess was destined to win over the peaceful colony of foragers, feasting on its adversaries' supplies to make up for its own lack of productivity. Thus, the world will never be freed of the scourge of war, since there is no stable equilibrium with unconquered worker colonies."

"Not really, the fighting was a near thing, and they had their own food supplies anyway. The war was really bad luck on both sides - a lot of their own ants died, and they ended up with more food than they can use. They'd have been better off if they'd never noticed us. It's just that once we make contact, we can't afford not to try to seize the initiative - if the other side catches us off our guard..."

"But, all those dead bodies, all that extra food - nature doesn't just leave free energy lying there - surely someone must have benefited."

"Well, I suppose there were some birds feasting on the newly-surfaced protein on the battlefield."

"So ... the birds did it?"

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