Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 3    May, 2011

Top 10 Animal Workaholics
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Condensed by Native Village

10. Factory Workers: Ants
While some may consider ants a nuisance, these tiny bugs eat dead insects. Their underground tunnel aerate soil, making them a vital part of any ecosystem.

An ant colony runs like a factory. Each ant has a defined role and responsibility.
The queen ant's only role is to reproduce, making her the mom of all ants born in a colony. She lives for 15-20 years.
The males who mate with her die shortly after mating.
Worker ants feed and care for the larvae produced by the queen. They also keep the colony clean, dig new tunnels and perform other roles.
Foraging ants find and bring food back to the colony.
Some ants act as security guards and scout locations for foragers

9. The Builders: Beavers
 Considered nature’s engineers, these long-toothed mammals are adept and diligent about building dams in rivers or streams to create ponds that suit their lodging needs

Beavers start preparing their winter homes in late summer or fall.
They use their tails to prop up tree trunks as they chew through the wood.
After the tree falls, the beaver chews it into smaller pieces and carry them back to the dam's location.
They lay the sticks in the mud, then stack layers of wood on top to make the dam.
Then the beaver digs out a lodge (its living quarters inside the dam.)
The beaver then stockpiles wood to eat during the long winter months.
 World’s Largest Beaver Dam Seen on Google Earth
8. The Hunters: Female Lions
These divas of the African desert hunt mostly at night. By working together to stalk and kill prey, they prove the success of “girl power.”

Female lions are the working mothers of the animal kingdom. They bring dinner to the table and nurture their young.
Female lions often "babysit" cubs for other lionesses.
Females do the most of the hunting for their entire pride of lions.
Without manes to tip off their prey, female lions can silently stalk their victims within 100 feet before they attack.

7. The Butchers: African Wild Dogs
These dogs plays an important role in balancing the desert's ecosystem by removing sick or injured animals

African wild dogs take the meat no one else wants.
These hunters work like a relay team. Some begin running close to to their prey, while other dogs run behind. When the lead dogs tire, those in the back of the pack take over.
African wild dogs hunt twice daily and have a 70%- 90% success rate.
The entire pack -- which is usually 6 to 20 members -- takes part in raising the pups.

6. Interior Decorators: Bowerbirds
The male bowerbird has an eye for decorating that might make the most talented interior designers look like amateurs.

Male bowerbirds build lavishly decorated nests to catch a female's eye.
They may also arrange the pebbles, shells, flowers and other objects so they appear larger when viewed from a specific spot. (He includes himself in this picture!)
The competition is steep -- several male bowerbirds often court the same female. The male bowerbird can use all the help he can get.

5. The Beauticians: Cleaner Wrasse
Fish living in coral reefs can thank the cleaner wrasse for helping them live parasite-free.  Like a beautician exfoliating our skin, the cleaner wrasse offers a similar scrub-down to fellow aquatic creatures.
These tiny fish average only 2 -3 inches in length.
They spend all day ridding other fish of parasites and dead scales. They even clean the fins, tails and mouths.
Cleaner Wrassee might also clean larger fish considered a predator. These large fish choose to give up their snack for a good cleaning.
It's a win-win situation: the parasite buffet gives the cleaner wrasse a full belly, and the reef fish get clean.
4. Demolition Experts: Termites
Most people consider termites a homeowner's worst nightmare. But these little demolishers are critical to a forests’ ecosystems by breaking down cellulose in wood for plants and animals to eat.

Termites operate within a social system very similar to that of ants.
Worker termites are white or may appear transparent. They locate food resources, excavate the wood, and care for young termites.
Soldier termites have yellow to brown heads and black mouths and are physically mature. They protect the colony from enemies like ants or termites from competing colonies.
The winged termites in a colony are called alates, or swarmers. They are in charge of starting new colonies.
3. The Farmers: Earthworms
 Charles Darwin spent decades studying the slimy crawlers and once said they played a vital part in our world’s history.

Earthworms are nature’s farmers who plow the soil they tunnel through..
Earthworms usually need 10 - 20 years to turn over the top 6 inches of soil.
The tunnels they leave help circulate air and water in the soil to keep it fresh and nutrient-rich.
Earthworm droppings are also essential. They are rich in nitrogen, calcium and other nutrients critical for a healthy ecosystem.
One square yard of soil can contain up to 300 earthworms.
Not all soil contains earthworms, but their presence usually means healthy dirt.
2. The Parents: Emperor Penguins
People became enamored by emperor penguins ever since the documentary film “March of the Penguins” debuted in 2005. It told the story of the penguins epic voyages every April, all for the purpose of breeding their young.

After a 50 mile trip (average) from the ocean to a hatching ground, penguins mate. The  mother produces an egg that she passes to the father.
The mother returns to the sea for food, and dad sits on the egg for around 64 days until it hatches.
Once the baby penguin is born, the father keeps it warm and feeds it nutrients kept in his own esophagus.
When mom returns, parents exchange duties. Dad returns to sea for his first meal in over four months.
By December (summer in Antarctica), the pack ice melts, revealing the ocean underneath. This is perfect for young emperor penguins who can finally swim and collect food on their own.
1. Corporate Employees: Honey Bees
Bees pollinate our crops. Without them, we'd starve. They are also a multi-million dollar business in the U.S. alone.

Just like any large company, it takes many roles to help the beehive run smoothly.
The CEO is the queen bee. Her job is to reproduce so the hive continuously has new workers.  Field bees leave the hive to collect necessary supplies, like nectar. They bring this back to the worker bees.
The worker bees are female and create the honey. They regurgitate the nectar over and over to remove most of the water. This produces honey.
Worker bees warm the hives in winter by waving their wings to produce heat. In the summer, they cool it off by waving their wings and sprinkling water on the honeycomb.
Honeybees have no vacations or happy hours. They work round the clock with no overtime pay.

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