Do Ant’s Sleep?

This was probably the most unusual question I was asked in my early days working at the pet store, it was queried over the phone by a gentleman with the most aristocratic sounding British accent imaginable. I was left for a few seconds trying to determine if it was a prank phone call or not as the caller sounded rather young and the accents authenticity was questionable to say the least.

But of course, the trouble with retail work phone calls is that really, even if you think you are being pranked, you still have to be polite and answer as though it is the most genuine of questions, because they may just turn out to be a genuine customer; regardless of what your gut feeling is telling you about the guy bunging on a bad Spanish accent and asking you to buy some of his rare fertile rooster eggs from him…

So anyway, this man rings up and the conversation goes as follows:

Me: Good morning, *insert shop name here* Kate speaking”

Him: Why GOOD morning to you too my dear girl, I have a TERRIBLE conundrum!

Me: Oh dear, well maybe I can help you with it, what’s going on?

Him: I am absolutely at ODDS over WHO to ask, but I thought just maybe, you would have the answer and solve this awful mystery for me!

Me: …Okay…

Him: So darling, do ants sleep?

Me: Pardon?

Him: Ants, do they sleep? I imagine that someone in your line of work would be the perfect person to answer this age old question that is sending my mind into absolute tail spins…

Me: *thinking is he joking, crazy or genuinely curious?* Um…  well ants aren’t really my specialty, but I suppose that they would have to have periods of rest, they work pretty hard…

Him: Yes of course, but do they SLEEP?

Me: I’m sorry sir, I don’t know for sure but I would guess that they probably do…

Him: Well then, do they dream? What would you imagine that they would even dream about?

Me: I really don’t know…. Dogs dream, perhaps ants do too? You could try looking it up…(google wasn’t really a thing yet)

Him: I imagine they must dream… hopefully about wonderful picnics and not about giants squishing them on the kitchen table though, hey?!

Me: Yeah, *fake laugh* yeah ant nightmares wouldn’t be too fun, most things are bigger than them…

My Boss: *Gives me the WTF are you talking about look*


It took about 20 minutes in the end, but I managed to convince him that I was not the authority on the subject and that perhaps the library or this new fangled internet thing would be more forthcoming with the scientific research into this matter, he didn’t scream out “haha gottcha” and thanked me profusely for my time before he hung up the phone muttering to himself “goodness, what a conundrum!”


FYI – I wasn’t far off with my initial answer (thank you, Mr Google)

"YES, THEY DO - but not in the sense we understand sleep. Research conducted by James and Cottell into sleep patterns of insects (1983) showed that ants have a cyclical pattern of resting periods which each nest as a group observes, lasting around eight minutes in any 12-hour period."

Nowadays I reflect on that amusing conversation and I wonder if he was simply manic, curious and close to a phone book. Its funny the things that occur to us when we are in a heightened state of awareness, for example, now I am sitting here wondering if bees dream and if so, would bee’s all share the same dreams due to that whole hive mentality thing? Amazing really, the amount of ‘things’ to think about including thinking about what other things area thinking about…


Image: Stolen with love from Google Images ❤



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