And God Created: The Replete

David Everson


After looking at the title for this article, some of those who know me might think, “There he goes again – off on some crazy story about something I have never heard of!” Well, that may be true in some areas of this article, but the main topic is something that is mentioned by Solomon and that I have written about several times before. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest." (Proverbs 6:6-8). We have covered the marvelous creation of the ant in several different past articles, but, as we look at members of the more than 8,000 species of ants, there are seemingly endless, unusual features that God has created in them. One of those that we would like to "consider" today is the honey pot or replete.

Ants, as Solomon said, need to gather food, and God has given some of the species a unique way of storing a food called “honeydew.” This by-product of digestion is gathered mainly from the secretions of aphids and scale insects in a process called “milking” or from plant juices. It is stored in a worker ant until it gets back to the nest, and there it is fed to the other specialized workers, called repletes or honey pots. The honeydew is stored in the replete’s abdomen as a sugary solution which can distend the abdomen to many times its normal size. The replete hangs from the ceiling of an underground chamber, sometimes for months, until the ant colony needs the stored food. Then, after stimulation, the replete regurgitates the sweet honeydew which is then used to maintain the colony until food becomes abundant again. The species of ants that have this ability are sometimes called “honey ants.”

Some repletes can also hoard water, fats, and body fluids from insect prey collected by the workers. The repletes gorge on that food that is collected outside the nest and brought to them by normally-proportioned worker ants. Then, deep in underground chambers, the repletes hang quietly in clusters, literally imprisoned by their rounded abdomens that have ballooned to the size of small grapes! There they await the colony’s need for food or water or whatever they are holding in their abdomens.

This ability that God has given to the repletes allows these ant colonies to survive in some very difficult climates. The deserts of Australia are some of the most difficult for animals to survive in and, yet, several species of ants with repletes as storage chambers do quite well in these harsh climates. Many raiding ant species will often search out these honey ants as a good place to go get food in a very easy manner. Other animals prize these ants as well. Animals are not the only ones looking for the honey ant. In fact the nests of these ants are sought out by native peoples as food sources during difficult times, for the rich storehouse that is available. There are honey ants found in the desert south west of the United States and are spread around most of the world in subtropical types of climates.

So how did God create the replete so it could have this marvelous ability? Well, a part of the abdomen known as the gaster can become greatly distended to hold the food supply. The stretched skin cannot contract again; thus repletes cannot return to a normal existence and will probably die when their supply is exhausted. The exact lifecycle of the replete is not well known due to their existence only in the buried nest of the ant colony.

How evolutionists can believe that the replete with its extremely tiny brain can understand the role that it is playing in the life of the colony and then believe that this ability and desire just came about by random accidental mutations is beyond me. Let us look to the ant for many things: industry, courage, determination, and, now, wonder at the great things our God has done in the replete. –Rt 1 Box 116A, Belington, WV 26256.

Return to West Virginia Christian