As I go I think about something I read once, about a certain kind of ant - a
stink ant that lives on the floor of the West African forest. This ant goes
about its ant business on the ground in an unremarkable way. It does not know
the curious and bizarre fate nature has in store for it. For in these forests
there is a particular type of arboreal fungus that flourishes at the top of
the great forest trees. At certain times this fungus releases its millions
of spores into the air. They blow here and there, driven by softest breezes,
eventually coming to rest somewhere on the ground. Some of these spores fall,
by the law of averages, onto animals and reptiles and some on crawling insects.
They are quite harmless except for one species: our stink ant. This minute
fungus spore falls on the stink ant and is absorbed into its ant system. It
drives the ant mad. Remember the stink ant's habitat is the ground, but the
lethal poison of the fungus spore engenders in it the sudden desire to climb.
So the stink ant, for the first and last time in its life, leaves the ground
and begins to ascend. It climbs up and up, higher and higher, until it can
climb no more. There, at the very top of the tree. It sinks its mandibles into
the ultimate twig and abruptly dies. Inside the dead ant the fungus peacefully
grows, nourished by the ant meat, warmed by top of the tree. The ant is
consumed and a new fungus is born.
"The New Confessions", William Boyd