Saruhanna Sand Ant
|Saruhanna Sand Ant|
|Official Name||Saruhanna Sand Ant|
|Common Nicknames||Quicksilver Ants, Colossus Ants|
The Saruhanna Sand Ant is a massive insectoid predator, preying on anything unfortunate enough to blunder into its territory. Sporting a silver carapace, these arthropods are perfectly suited to prey on the less fortunate denizens of Saruhanna. However, they once ranged far and wide until the Great Storm wiped many of them from the great desert continent of Farah’deen. Their large size is also thought to be tied to the past, with the consensus standing that the feature is a result of a previous Void Invasion though many uneducated people believe it was a result of the Cataclysm. Regardless, they are a serious threat to any explorer seeking to venture into Saruhanna’s dry regions, especially ones who are foolish enough to stray into the ants’ cavernous colony networks.
The Saruhanna Sand Ant has long been part of Qadir history and culture. For centuries before the Cataclysm and one century after it, the Sand Ant was plentiful on the dry continent of Farah’deen. They are suspected be a byproduct of a previous Void Invasion, though most Ailor may imagine they are from the Fifth and most recent one. The Sariyd Empire and other Qadir city-states found there forewarned many travelers of the dangers these Human-sized ants posed. The animal was also a primary prey of the larger species of Desert Dragon that lived on Farah’deen. Whole Sand Ant hills could be killed to sate the hunger and aggression of these dragon species. However, then the Great Storm came, and the large insect was believed extinct. However, this was almost immediately disproven when Songaskians in northern Farah’deen discovered the animal alive and well. However, they were in a very localized area and over the next several decades, were shown to spread very cautiously and slowly despite the activities of their much smaller cousins. As such, the animal has been local to Saruhanna and has only reached into the territory of its neighboring Minor Nations and States within the last 50 years. In the recent First and Second Songaskian Wars, the animal was minimally affected, Saruhanna itself barely being touched by any enemy party. Even the Songaskian Civil War did little to damage their numbers, but the animal still has not spread back into its old stomping grounds at the core of the desert continent. It is unlikely the animal’s presence in Farah’deen will be harmed unless directly targeted in the future.
The Saruhanna Sand Ant is one of the largest insects in Aloria, standing at four feet high but five and a half to six and a half feet long. Their heads are large, featuring a set of large pincers that sit before a smaller set of mandibles that act as a mouth to draw in food for consumption. Two sizeable black compound eyes sit above these mandibles with a set of long flexible and segmented silver-black antennae reaching forward. The head is then joined to the thorax, where their long six-segmented legs extend in three pairs. While in most ants the size of the legs increases front to back, those on the Saruhanna Sand Ant are all of similar length but do have several inches indifference from the front set to the rear set. The body is then rounded out with the fat abdomen, tipped with a small stinger. The entire insect is covered in an almost metallic carapace that is of a deep silver coloration. The Sand Ant also is not covered in hair like other members of its species. There are also small differences in the other two classes of Sand Ant as the workers and warriors all appear similar to the description seen above. The princes and princesses of a colony have huge membraned wings but are rarely seen except for twice a year during the summer and winter during the full moon when they burst forth onto the surface, swirl around in a mating ritual before retreating to their hills to die. Queens are assumed to be similarly different, and while only spoken of in scholarly theory or tall tales, one tale places them at thrice the size of normal workers with an engorged abdomen.
Saruhanna Sand Ants are like many other ant species is almost entirely made up of females. Males are only born close to the two points of the year that require mating in the species. The species also has a uniform appearance, all covered in the same glinting carapace and the only difference between each is certain features lacking in the others or certain mentalities, especially in the case of the warriors versus the workers.
Life Span and Development
Saruhanna Sand Ants are born as small fist-sized light grey opaque eggs, laid by a queen. Over the next several weeks, the egg will grow and eventually hatch into a larva which will squirm and eat, shedding its skin multiple times as it grows larger and develops more physical features over the course of a month. Then, it becomes a pupa, at which point it will wrap itself in a grey silken wrap caped with a white dot on the end for another several weeks. During this time, it will form adult features and often bulge its wrap as it expands to this size. It then emerges, as a full adult to work, fight or fly and die. Within a few months, it will feature full physical size as well, completing its entire development within half a year. The Saruhanna Sand Ant has radically different life spans for each type. Warriors and workers can live up to five years, while most princes and princesses (those ants gifted with wings) barely live a month, existing only to mate and then die. What princesses survive this situation then become queens and can live for several decades. There is no information on how long Sand Ant queens can live for, but most believe it to be fifty years. What few princes survive the night of mating die within several months to a year and serve as warriors throughout that time.
The Saruhanna Sand Ants are a swarm species and are interested in only one thing: Survival. Workers are the backbone of the colony and the most populous of all the subgroups. They work daily to feed the larvae, collect water, dig new tunnels and collect enough food for all to survive. They are the first to starve when there are food shortages, and it is not uncommon for their dedicated work ethic to drive them to death after which they are broken apart and eaten by the others. Warriors are dedicated to the protection and the attack, patrolling in the underground tunnels the colony forms and following groups of workers in the activities. They are the second most populous group of Saruhanna Sand Ant as well. They have a similar lethal dedication as the workers but to the defense and protection of the colony, the queen, and the princesses. Though there are few animals in Farah’deen that hunt the Sand Ant, they still keep themselves aggressive and prepared for confrontation.
The mentality of the princes and princesses are some of the most versatile. In their first few weeks as an adult, they mill around, generally calm as they wait for their big day, usually helping the workers feed the larva and defending should the need arise. However, when the full moon begins to rise, they surge toward the surface, flying out of their holes and into the sky where they soon congregate. They then mate in a flurry of activity, some in the air, others on the ground but this goes on throughout the entire night. When the moon begins to set, they fly back to their colonies and die, sometimes on the way. These bodies are not eaten but instead carried to what most refer macabrely as an insect mausoleum and then deposited. Those princesses that survive grow into queens and produce new generations while princes live on for a short time only. This act of burial shows that while they are driven to survive, the Saruhanna Sand Ant does possess certain social restrictions to that drive. Queens have little information available on their mentality but are assumed to be mindless reproducers.
Territory and Groupings
Saruhanna Sand Ants are colony insects, existing in a polygyny state with multiple queens in their large singular colony. While it is hard for many to grasp, scholars have indeed determined that the Saruhanna Sand Ant has created a species-wide mega-colony of tens of thousands, with dozens of chambers and spaces for their queens, their eggs, their food and their honored dead. All of these tunnels are large enough to drive a carriage through and generally spiral downward, increasing in steepness the deeper you go. This megacolony expands slowly and carefully, with many of its members following this seemingly genetic directive but some have been known to stray far away from the great mound entrances to the colonies if food is particularly scarce or if they are somehow mentally or physically impaired such as a cracked head carapace or broken antenna.
- Saruhanna Sand Ants are suspected to be able to drink the water of the salty Juguou “Sea” (a large lake in Saruhanna’s south). Some theorize if that is the reason for their size or their bright covering.
- There was once a gambling establishment which would pit Saruhanna Sand Ants against all manner of creatures, but it went out of business after an incident where two ants escaped from the fighting ring and killed most of the customers.
- Saruhanna Sant Ants are sometimes called Quicksilver Ants due to their silvery coloring and deadly nature.