Nature Nuggets

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Nature’s Wealth of Wisdom

Who do you turn to when you need guidance—a family elder, teacher, or friend? Read William Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Tables Turned.’ Which teacher does he recommend?


Nature has existed longer than any of us and has a wealth of wisdom to offer—if only we choose to pay attention. While Nature does not speak to us in words we understand, the natural world illustrates qualities we admire and should cultivate ourselves. Having just celebrated World Environmental Education Day on 26 January, let’s now explore what lessons the natural world can teach us in this edition of Nature Nuggets.

We are interconnected
The song ‘The Circle of Life‘ refers to the cycle of birth and death and how all things in Nature are interconnected. Food webs and nutrient cycles illustrate some of these interconnections. Any disruption to these can have far-reaching effects. So, let’s be mindful of the consequences of our actions on other people and the natural world.

Collaborate for everyone’s good
We find many unique and unusual instances in Nature where species form partnerships and work together for mutual benefit. We too can achieve our individual goals if we collaborate with others.

Community matters
Did you know that trees in a forest share information and resources through a special underground network? Like forest trees, we live in a community too. By communicating, collaborating, and sharing resources with others in our community, we can ensure progress for everyone.

Waste nothing
Nature ensures that nothing in the natural world goes to waste. Dead organisms are consumed by scavengers and decomposed by decomposers into compounds that are cycled in the environment through the nutrient cycles. Let this inspire us to consume less, reuse and repurpose what we can, and recycle so that we waste as little as possible.

Lend a helping hand
Humpback whales rush to help other species such as seals from attacks by killer whales. Watch this video where a biologist talks about how a humpback whale saved her life. Other animals too have been known to exhibit altruism—behaviour that involves helping others without any obvious benefit to oneself. Let us pledge to do more to help others around us too!

Practise patience
Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu observed, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Seasons change, seeds sprout, a caterpillar turns into a butterfly—all in their own time. These examples remind us that we may need to be calm and patient to see the results of our efforts. Let us not be stressed and in a hurry!

Have you noticed weeds sprouting between bricks or tiles? Abandoned buildings become overrun with vegetation over time. The land around Chernobyl that is contaminated by radioactive material has been reclaimed by Nature too. Don’t these examples inspire us to persevere despite challenges?

Isn’t Nature an inspiring teacher? Let’s thank Her for these valuable lessons by working together to preserve our wonderful world.

Common Name: Red fire ant
Scientific Name:Solenopsis invicta

Red fire ants are native to South America but are highly invasive and have spread to parts of North America, Australia, New Zealand, and a few other countries. Although notorious for their aggression and painful burning sting, they give us many reasons to admire them.

Red fire ants build mounds in the soil as nests to host workers, winged males, and several egg–laying queens. They are omnivores that sting and kill small animals for food and scavenge animal remains. They swarm and attack when defending their nests.

Red fire ants are amazingly innovative. During floods, they form a living raft to float to safety, establishing a new mound where they make landfall.

Watch this video to find out why fire ants are of interest to engineers!

Time to check your Nature Quotient!

Many insects including fire ants secrete chemicals to induce certain behaviours in other ants of their colony. What are these types of chemicals called?

a. Phenols
b. Hormones
c. Pharaohs
d. Pheromones

Answer to be revealed in our next edition!

Previous edition answer: Statements b. and c. are correct! Tigers enjoy the water and are good swimmers. They are known to swim from island to island in the Sundarbans. A group of tigers is called a streak or an ambush—isn’t that unusual?

Congratulations to everyone who guessed it right!

Ants amaze us with their diligence and teamwork. Find ant nests around your home and neighbourhood and study them without disturbing them—you may be amazed too. With a little help from an adult at home, you could also build an ant farm. Make sure to care for your ants well! If you find ants in your home, don’t hurt them! The best way to keep them out of your home is to make sure all food is stored away in sealed containers and the kitchen and dining area are kept clean.

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