a completely dead red-barbed ant
BBC.com tell us that a team of scientists from the Zoological Society of London are beginning an ambitious project to save one of Britain's most endangered species…
… the red-barbed ant (Formica rufibarbus) ...
... also known as the 'St. Martin's ant'. Why 'St. Martin's ant'? Your guess is as good as ours.
The red-barbed ant ranges throughout Europe, from Western Siberia all the way to Portugal. Though it is on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List in Britain, it is still common on the continent. In truth, it has never been numerous in the UK, but recently building and expansion has devastated its narrow Surrey habitat.
There is a general agreement among scientists - who are said to study some mysterious thing called "data" - that the wider the variety of species in an area, the healthier and stronger its ecosystem. Another viewpoint is that the more creatures there are out there, the more likely you are to hit something on your drive home from the pub.
The UK Biodiversity Action plan has an action plan – no surprises there - to tackle the red-barbed ant crisis. Their goals are to maintain ant populations at known sites, enhance the population size, and to restore populations to suitable sites in order to maintain viable populations within the historic range by 2010.
There are concerns they may also have to land UN troops to safeguard the ants territory.
Personally, we at Londonist are sick to death of these environmental do-gooders trying to save the lives of insignificant creatures with too many legs and sideways-going jaws. You start trying to save the ants and the next thing you know you're trying to save the hedgehog and the marsh tit and the shortfin mako shark. Before you know it, you're trying to save the Routemaster. And you know what that is going to lead? Reverence for the beauty of life no matter where or what it is.
Is that the kind of world we want to live in?