Ants as life, in a tattoo

artwork by Art Godoy (; photo by Saber Miresmailli

Entomologist Saber Miresmailli has a new tattoo modeled on one of my turtle ants. This week, Saber sent in the following backstory along with the above image:

Tattoos are very personal and one should have strong conviction about an idea, a thought, a memory or a concept to permanently mark it on his or her body.

People who know me personally, know that I am openly atheist and I have no problem sharing this fact with others. I am also an applied biologist with chemical ecology/entomology background. That kinda explain the Greek atheist (read Atheous) mark embedded in the DNA strand but you might want to know what a gliding ant doing at the end of my DNA!

I have to confess I have never worked with this insect personally (I am more of an agricultural pest kinda guy, cabbage loopers, whiteflies, spider mites, etc.) but the parachuting behavior of this insect really fascinates me. As an arboreal ant, if something knock this ant off a tree, instead of directly and hopelessly falling down, it can glide beautifully to a lower branch or on the ground and then find its way back up.

There is something majestic about this ant that helped me going through some really difficult episodes in my life. The last one was almost couple of months ago when I was wrongly diagnosed with liver cancer and that three weeks that it took doctors to repeat the tests and void the previous diagnostics, got me revisit many of my thoughts and convictions in life.

You know, life can always throw a wrench at our plans. The moment you feel you have everything going for you, you got a happy marriage, you have an awesome job, you live in a wonderful city and ride a kick ass motorcycle,…something can pop up and knock you down your dream life tree. You ARE going to fall! but are you going to fall down as if you are hopeless or are you going to beautifully glide through the hardship and get a grip and find your way back up?! This is what the Cephalotes ants do and that is why I added this insect to my tattoo. So it can remind me that when life pushes me and I fall; I should fall gracefully and climb back up.


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