(NB the #18 animal will appear soon, we have commissioned an expert in the field to write a piece and will publish it out of sequence!)

My work has been on a drive to get everyone to complete their profiles on the Company Intranet. This is 3000 people so no easy task. As part of the profile you are required to answer a question “What inspires you?”. Most of the responses have either been business crawliness (I am inspired by teamwork and the feeling of satisfaction when a PROJECT is handed in) or hello-clouds whimsy. However one person has put “Ants”. Good for her.

Unfortunately her reasoning is straight out of The Animal Kingdom for Managers. Also after discussing the pride and teamwork of the tiny ants she then boasts of “irradicating” them all in her kitchen, this is not the attitude we need from our staff surely. Anyway while not inspired by the humble ant I do like it a lot. As with the pig it is the versatility that wins me over:

– metaphor for playing God. One of the first things any self-respecting supervillain learns is the phrase “mere ants”.

– actuality of playing God in the form of an Ant Farm. Nobody I knew ever actually constructed an Ant Farm but they took the acquisition of one as a license to do unspeakable things to ants.

– creature of fear even at normal size as they have a tendency to swarm. Not that the ones on English patios swarmed much but my shaky grasp of ant lifestyles made me sure that if only a powerful enough queen could be found doomsday would ensue.

– very frightening indeed at giant African size. There was a feature on the ant menace on the BBC recently which allowed one lucky presenter to utter the sentence “Only the beaks remain.”

– not frightening at all at unrealistic colossal radiation-infected size.

– tireless humble worker, exploited by indolent grasshopper.

– Ant Man out of Marvel Comics, much-loved if generally useless superhero who controls ants (three of whom he named Crosby, Stills and Nash!)

– I have a metre-long ant soft toy.