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I am revisiting an older scenario I came up with, but I have been experiencing many of the same problems. I have a swampy, jungle world which flooded, causing a species of fire ant that made an ant raft to evolve a collective behavior, ditching anthills and becoming an ant-hill (I'm not sorry). Over thousands of years, the flood water receded and the clustering behavior of these ant-hills remained, creating a powerful, natural, biological army. Over many millions of years and some complicated evolutionary history, I don't have room to explain, These ant-hills evolved into a collective consciousness complete with a military and hatred of local terraforming humans.

As they do not bleed and lack 'organs' so to speak, their species (Diluviumformica sapiens) consists of many smaller specimens, all working as a whole, communicating using touch and pheromones, the larger whole communicates with each other through much more powerful pheromones.

Virtually immortal and destroying terraforming station, the Ant-hills must be stopped and we are ready to destroy them, but how?

The only option is a brutal ground war, as all solutions for space combat have been declared too risky to the safety of terraforming the world.


Given all of these restrictions, How do us humans effectively conquer this jungle planet and defeat the inhabitants? Modern guns would fail on these multiple bodied aliens as would most weapons, what kind of cheap fighting would be effective on these collective consciousness?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Uncle Tres, it looks like you answered some requests for clarification in comments; please edit them into the question if relevant. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 26 '16 at 3:44
  • $\begingroup$ What do you think humans are? We are collective consciouses, both on an "individual" basis and as a species... $\endgroup$ – Durakken Aug 27 '16 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Durakken no, that... That really isn't true at all. Unless I missed something and I am a cell of a super animal, but...Yeah no, what you say isn't right. $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Aug 27 '16 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ @UncleTres Not going to have an argument here about it, but many people argue that we are and the only reason you don't think so is likely one of the same reason you and others think other things that aren't true, but think about it, there is no difference between what you're describing and a nation with shared beliefs other than the scales we're talking about. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Aug 27 '16 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Durakken there is a difference, for one, I am familiar will the theory you talk about as people often bring it up when I talk about a collective consciousness. But the theory falls flat as its only support is that we cannot prove that it isn't true, which is a poor base for a theory. Even if the theory was correct, there is still a difference; we are sapient individually and as a collective, ants are sentient as individuals but sapient as a collective. $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Aug 27 '16 at 23:18

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Exploit their pheromone networks

Since each ant is a conglomerate of smaller individuals who cooperate by touch and pheromones, then design chemical weapons to disrupt this communication.

First, capture as many individuals as you can. Place them in a controlled environment with as sensitive a chemical sensor suite as you can muster. Put the ants through various scenarios and stress levels to see what the pheromones and pheromone levels look like. Depending on your findings, you may be able to make a pheromone suppressor or more interestingly, a pheromone(s) that signal disease and cause the ant to "dissolve" back to the sub-individuals.

Whatever findings made through experimentation will point you toward an approach for pheromone exploitation.

Old Answer (It still works, it's just not as specific as the new answer)

Take all the really bad things that humans aren't supposed to do each other anymore (basically, all the lovely weapons/weapons systems developed between 1917 and 1945, and are now forbidden) and use those against the ants

Let's go through them one by one:

Flame or chemical weapons

Normal bullets and beam weapons won't work because they only affect a small number of targets at once. Area of effect weapons such as flame throwers or chemical weapons should affect large numbers of these ants at the same time. Also, assuming that they have physiology similar to Earth ants, they will be limited in size to the available oxygen levels. If these ants are large, it will mean very high atmospheric oxygen levels....the use of flame weapons is going to be spectacular!

Chemical weapons can be spread over wide areas. Even if they don't kill the ants, just slow them down or deny them access to an area, that will make the war significantly easier for the humans.

Biological Attacks

Make a virus that only attacks these ants and let it loose. It's very difficult to make a virus that kills 100% of a population. Still, dealing with so much disease and degraded command/social structures should help along the human conquest.

Go one step nastier and target the ant's food supply. Make them starve to death. Or, don't kill the ants directly, infect them with a form of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, that turns them into zombies.

Develop a debilitating parasite

Mother Nature is really good about making parasites that do terrible things to the host organism, so there is no shortage of approaches that can be taken when developing a parasite or host of parasites to attack and degrade the ant's war fighting ability. Really, there's no end of variation or combination here.

X from Orbit

If any kind of orbital targeting, target acquisition or energy delivery is permitted (not sure why the resource wouldn't be available but whatever)

X = Microwave

Built a huge microwave emitter in space. Point it at the ant hills. If the microwaves don't penetrate the ground, you've developed a wonderful area denial weapon that can be turned on or off at will. If it happens that the ants use a solvent other than water for their internal chemistry, change the microwave emitter to use that solvent's resonant frequency. In this case, the microwave emitter can be kept on even when humans are present (though do some very thorough testing to make sure).

Alternatively, change the frequency to good old IR and just melt the ant hills to slag.

X = Large deorbiting objects

Throwing large rocks at the problem is a popular and time honor tradition.

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  • $\begingroup$ There was a wonderful Bolo story about a single decommissioned Bolo sent to be an agricultural worker. The planet was then invaded. The Bolo tried projectiles, then chemicals and eventually created a genetic weapon. Flame weapons would destroy most of what you are trying to save. $\endgroup$ – Blackbeagle Aug 23 '16 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ Yah, no nukes is always a downside - you'd be amazed at how many ants a Tsar Bomba could take out..... $\endgroup$ – X-27 Aug 23 '16 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Blackbeagle, vegetation is remarkably resilient to fire, often requiring it as part of the reproductive cycle $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 23 '16 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ "...that turns them into zombies" and then in the next story, you get to deal with a collective consciousness in the form of zombies! $\endgroup$ – David Starkey Aug 23 '16 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ Nice touch with Cordyceps $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Aug 24 '16 at 1:30
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Sun Tsu said: "Study the five factors of warfare: Way, Heaven, Ground, General, and Law. Calculate your strength in each and compare them to your enemy's strengths." While he may have been speaking from an age of human armies facing human armies, his advice is universal and can be applied in this case.

The 'Way' is the strong bond your people have with you. Whether they face certain death or hope to come out alive, they never worry about danger or betrayal.

I am assuming your warriors are the kind that will stand behind you in this sort of fight. You've already indoctrinated them that this is a matter of life and death for the entire intelligent universe, so hopefully they won't betray you.

Your opponent has an advantage over you in terms of the Way. There is only one collective anthill, and its elements will die for their cause, not because they believe in it, but because they simply will. They lack the sapience to do otherwise.

'Heaven' is dark and light, cold and hot, and the seasonal constraints. 'Ground' is high and low, far and near, obstructed and easy, wide and narrow, and dangerous and safe.

The anthills have been here a long time. They understand the land far better than you do. Each anthill is going to be located in an easily defensible location.

However, we have space-faring travel. We can monitor the state of the planet across the world in real time. This gives us the advantage of the weather. Because we can move more weather-related data around, and move it faster, we can better predict the weather.

'General' is wise, trustworthy, benevolent, brave, and disciplined.

The anthill general may be a weakness. You mention that it is very expansionist, which means that, given a choice, it will choose to take territory rather than refining its control of the territory it has.

Your general I'm assuming is an excellent strategic mind, because that will make for the best story. I'm visualizing a Mazer Rackham for this scenario. If your general is less awesome than Mazer was, you may have to adjust this plan.

'Law' is organization, the chain of command, logistics, and the control of expenses.

I think this is where the battle gets interesting, because the command structure of a collective consciousness is so tremendously different from a normal army. A collective consciousness is going to have a loose hierarchy, rather than the rigid one we are used to. There will still be value in aggregating command decisions into a small number of elements of the anthill, but if those elements are disrupted, others will take over the job. This process will be as unconscious as you shifting your weight from one side to another to free up the muscles you need to pick something heavy up.

Our command and logistics will be far more brittle, but we have something they don't: electromagnetic devices. We can transmit information at nearly the speed of light with radios and cables and other similar devices. This means we have a tremendous logistic advantage in terms of information flow. Our soldiers will need to capitalize on this.

They may have radios also, depending on how advanced their society is. However, the mass high-bandwidth communication which makes a collective consciousness work would not be well supported by this medium. If you reduce them to radio, they are no longer one collective consciousness, but two, and they have less experience with that sort of situation than we do.


Okay, now lets use what we learned to combat these anthills. Our only real advantage is that we can transmit data far faster than they can. We can use this to develop a powerful tool to combat collective consciousness: the speed of darkness. If you can strike faster than information is transmitted, your opponent cannot prepare for it. The usual limit to this process is that the deeper you strike, the more cut off you are from your own general's orders. However, with the asymmetry of radio, you can strike faster than any of their intuitive high-bandwidth connections can respond to.

This gives you the ability to cut off a section of the anthill from the rest of its kind. At this point, it no longer has the brilliant tactical capabilities of the gestalt consciousness, it's much smaller. You can now wage a battle against the smaller piece. Repeat as necessary. The same logic works with the anthills themselves. Cut them off from the rest of the organism and take them on in isolation.

Along the way, you should be able to capture some of their dead ant bodies. You should be able to do research on them, and learn more about how they operate. This will be key knowledge about the enemy going forward.

The ideal goal would be to create a surgical strike that isolates a section of the anthill without raising any awareness. If you can move in subtly and quickly enough, you can interact with their information streams. This could be very powerful. As an example, it is obvious that once you strike, the larger side of the anthill is going to try to attack whatever forces you put in the way. It will have the goal of reattaching the lost group of ants to the greater whole. However, if you can strike swiftly and convince the segregated portion that the gestalt collective wants them to strike as fast as possible, and you can convince the gestalt that your segregated unit saw an opportunity and acted on it, then the enemy may not even realize that it is engaging in combat until it is too late.

Even if you can't interrupt their communications in such a subtle manner, you can let the weather do it for you. If you can predict the weather better than they can, you can predict how it is going to affect their communications. If you strike at the correct times and places, you can take advantage of mistakes in their weather prediction, so you know how they will respond better than they do.

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  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate your framing of the problem as a strategic contest between fundamentally different command/control/information structures, rather than just providing a shopping list of weaponry and isolated tactics. Cort, do you write fiction or anything? I've seen several of your answers on WBSE now and they are always among my favorite in a given thread. $\endgroup$ – evenex_code Aug 23 '16 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @evenex_code Thanks =) I'm no writer. I'm actually an engineer by trade. I have a lot of fun dissecting complicated systems and isolating the parts that I think matter, which works out well for the Stack Exchange format. As for actually writing a book that people would enjoy reading, let's just say I have a great deal of respect for those who can do it. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 23 '16 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ Same here. Well, if you ever get around to even a short story or anything like that, I'm sure I would enjoy it. $\endgroup$ – evenex_code Aug 24 '16 at 1:40
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Obviously, the place to start is "God Rods" -aka: hit them with an orbital bombardment. That doesn't mean destroying everything on the surface or wiping out all the other animals, it can even be pretty surgical, but you would definitely want to start with some "artillery" even if it is just in the form of some dense nickel asteroids redirected at their highest population centers.

Going down to the surface is going to be a very problematic issue, but there are ways around that. For one thing, if you have the technology to get to their planet, you probably have the technology to develop some pretty sophisticated ground combat drones. Large swarms of these could form your main offensive force. If you could develop self replicating ground combat drones, you are REALLY in business. Drones that work as a sort of technological "ecosystem" with nanobots that can break down mineral resources and build more drones on the fly. That kind of tech is exactly what you are going to need to keep the pressure on the endless swarm of ants.

Tactics should exploit the probable weaknesses of such a massmind. For example, I am willing to bet that the massmind would be better at focusing on large, major threats on a mass scale than on individual threats to single members of it's host colony. Similar to the way that you would be better at noticing and avoiding a bear than a virus. If you made the combat drones small, say 1/8th the size of the individual ants, and have the drones latch onto the ant bodies and kill them from inside their natural "defensive perimeter", the drones could spread out into large clouds and work their way through large numbers of ants without giving the massmind itself anything specific to focus on.

Another idea is to latch onto the ants and inject them with a DNA altering virus that would turn that ant into a walking poison factory for the rest of it's "hill". Some clever bioengineering could do wonders.

Bottom line: try to avoid "Starship Troopers" type scenarios where you have boots on the ground as much as possible.

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Chemical warfare. Ants typically use a pheromone based form of communication. Unless you are postulating a quantum linkage for every ant, using false chemical signaling could enable local dominance in a small area and communication difficulties across regions.Taking out the Queens becomes a priority as they tend to host the primary decision processing. Clean up might be a pain, though.

Climatic shift. You're already terraforming, and you have the high ground. Increase or decrease the temperature enough to turn the environment against the ants, but not enough to kill off the environment.

Genetic warfare. Assuming you can contain the results, introduce alterations to the ants via food and water supplies. Reduce fertility. The Queens and the males are the weak links. As an alternative, find or introduce predators and/or parasites and give them a leg up.

Sensory overload. Test the limits of the input capacities. Saturate the processing capability of the hive mind. Try sonics. Certain frequencies affect insects.

Orbital mind control lasers. Precise, fast, environmentally friendly lobotomy. Target queens if possible. Build or drop fake facilities as lures, then have at them.

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Breed you own ants. Sterilize them. And let them take over the planet. Wait a few generations and your intelligent ants will be destroyed by cheap immigrant labor.

Ether that or they'll elect an orange ant with bad hair, in which case they're doomed anyway.

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    $\begingroup$ "Make ant-hills great again!" $\endgroup$ – Cody Aug 22 '16 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ Several generations of sterilized ants can breed!!!??? Someone doesn't need to elect an orange ant with bad hair to need to have an appointment with the anteater. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 23 '16 at 4:46
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the orange ant with bad hair will simply build a wall to keep the other ants out... They will call it the Great Wall of Antmerica, Land of the Free (to leave) $\endgroup$ – Aric Aug 23 '16 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android they can if you don't get confused and do things out of order. $\endgroup$ – candied_orange Aug 23 '16 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android - This answer is talking about the Sterile Insect Technique of eradicating certain bugs. Like the screwworm. You have to introduce sterile insects multiple times, over several generations. You should watch BrainDead. $\endgroup$ – Xplodotron Aug 23 '16 at 19:18
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Find a chemical compound that inhibites the collective consiousness, the ants needs someway to communicate, you could disrupt that signal (wich I assume be a electromagnetic signal or some kind of pheromone).

If the consciousness is more like "innate decision making" (so not a real collectivity but just a behaviour that favours the collectivity) then your best bet is guerrilla against small groups of ants.

Culprits: If that species is very similiar to ants, then they keeps their extreme physical strenght (being able to lift small cars should be easy for them, also eradicating trees is very feasible). These are extremely dangerous creatures on melee combat, and are favoured by any kind of ground (they can move everywhere).

Assuming they have evolved technology, they would favour equipment that is much heavier than those of humans, for them carrying heavy weapons is a trick.

Possible weak points: sensible to chemical compounds, they possibly are very sensible to smells making more viable chemical weapons even weapons that could be totally harmless to humans. If thye behave like a collective they will problably send solitaire scouts, the scouts are free kills for any incursion team, by they time they send reinforcements the team can be taken off the surface.

Strong points: possibly they have a deep underground network, they need no excavation machinery afterall, are very strong on melee combat and everything happens can be seen by other beings (afterall they are a collective). They can probably smell anything, so you have to prefer snipers, soldiers in full bio-suit (prevent smells), or aircrafts.

So possible tactics: sniping on open rocky grounds (the only ground you can see them coming and they cannot come from underground because of rocks bed). Bombarding their food reserves and cities. Earthquake bombs to destroy their tunnels. You could probably kill some of them and go unnoticed if you are able to create "accidents" (like falling rocks from a cliff, if you assume a falling rock could kill one of them). As weapons you should prefer highly disruptive weapons (so the kind of weapons that generate much heath, like U238 bullets, RPG missiles, napalm)

Never colonize the planet: unless you find a virus that destroy all of them, they are very capable of hide for years thanks to their strenght, so even after you colonize the planet they will be able to kill lot of your people. (unless you create cities that have steel basements and very high walls).

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I’d like to point out the analogy with the brain: any one brain cell is not intelligent, but the collection of interconnected cells is.

Diseases like meningitis can kill people. Sometimes the “collective” can fight back successfully, sometimes it can’t.

How fragile is the anthill mind? Consider what a stab to the brain would do: killing only a few cells, but disrupting much more, it can cause specific disabilities based on the region affected. Imagine the difference between killing random brain cells and targeting the hippocampus!

Now the mobile anthill has some innate tolerance to being disturbed. But that can be pushed to the limit, and attackers can target specific features and disrupt the logistics of the distributed intelligence.

As far as simply killing ants, the colony doesn’t have an infinite supply. Killing workers is equivalent to a siege, and will keep resources from the central hive. With real-world bees you have colony collapse disorder when workers are killed at a higher rate than they can be replaced, and the hive’s only pre-programmed reaction is to prioritize resource gathering and send out other individuals from other jobs (individuals progress from job to job and gathering is last), and loses those too. A smarter hive capable of planning would keep them instead, but would be “under seige”.

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+1 to the flame/chemicals/virus answer, those were my first thoughts too.

But here is a question: How do the ants communicate as this shared intelligence? Do they use electromagnetic waves? Using an EMP weapon would disrupt their means of communication, turning the highly organized swarms into scattered messes, unable to coordinate with their comrades. The disorganization will cause them to lose their effectiveness very quickly, buying time for the other methods to work more effectively, as well as minimizing damage. The humans would be damaging their own electronics in the blast, but if the EMP is deployed away from their own bases/forces it could be followed with an effective strike with whatever technology you need (such as flamethrowers or chemical weapons).

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  • $\begingroup$ Theoretically, an EMP would still do something, though admittably not much, against a conventional nervous system, through electromagnetic induction. But I think that unless the power of the EMP is absurdly large, it wouldn't do all too much $\endgroup$ – DevilApple227 Aug 23 '16 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking less about what the EMP would do to the organisms directly, and more about how it might disrupt their ability to coordinate and function as a swarm rather than individuals. $\endgroup$ – Cody Aug 23 '16 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ I know, I was just exploring the idea of the EMP hurting the organisms themselves, in the same way that it would theoretically hurt any organism with an electricity-based nervous system. $\endgroup$ – DevilApple227 Aug 24 '16 at 14:40
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Assuming these ants are susceptible in the same way Earth ants are, the answer is chemical warfare.

The fact that ants are highly susceptible to thiol oxidation is widely established. By breaking the relatively weak bond with some oxidizer such as iodine, sodium hypochloride (bleach), or hydrogen peroxide, the ants are killed VERY quickly.

Thiols are also used in typical current communications. By introducing competing thiols (like skunk scent or coffee), you can create confusing stimulus to the ants. When widespread in an area, adding massive confusing information to a collective conscious will create an overload of information to slow any coordinated reaction to an attack.

As mentioned in other posts, note that ants can only grow to a certain size due to the air exchange methodology. Unless there is a fundamental change in this physiology, each individual ant cannot support much of a brain. There either has to be something central to coordinate (perhaps for it to be collective between these brains?), or the entire mentality will be extremely instinctual. Depending on which it is will determine the strategy of attack. You could even write your story such that one method was tried as an assumption (say, that they assume it is instinctual and work at killing one hill at a time) only to discover that they need to target several at one time with confusing scents in order to be effective.

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A collective mind has one great weakness, its individuals.

Imagine a mind filled with millions upon millions of screaming individuals held in total constant agony until the collective mind goes insane and destroys itself.

Don't kill the ants hold them captive and torture them to the brink of death, but keep them alive.

The collective will break apart.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow... that's really dark thinking, but admittably effective--except in one case. What if the collective "leader" (so maybe the queen, or something like that) is able to cut an individual from the web, or cause him to die. For example, in Ender's Game, when the buggers were captured, they quickly died within a few hours. $\endgroup$ – DevilApple227 Aug 23 '16 at 23:01
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I would suggest a powerful biological weapon. The only way to destroy a collective is kill every single member. You could do this by bombing every one of their anthills, but since humanity is on the run it might be more cost effective to develop a biological weapon. Even if a small percentage manage to survive you can still hunt them down and take them out with conventional weapons.

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Ants communicate also by pheromones, leaving them on the ground as a means of showing "this way lies food/an enemy/whatever", in case other ants come this way. Your Ants are more evolved, and should be able to leave more complex on the ground. Information war by creating pheromones containing deceiving information should do the trick. Also, ants are constantly at war with other ants, even if they are of the same kind, so long as they have a different queen. Fake pheromones implying that one ant-hill is planning a war on the other should divert your enemies. Be aware that what holds an ant-hill together is the ant-queen. Poison her via a suicide-squad mission to the heart of an ant-hill. So many possibilities!

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The answers currently on the board would work, and work fairly well, but I'd ike to look at this from a different angle.

Terraforming is, by definition, changing the conditions of a planet to become as much like Earth as possible. Since this is an alien planet, the ants have evolved to match the local conditions, while the Humans are trying to alter the local conditions to make the planet resemble Earth. If this is successful, then there is a very great possibility that the ants, (and every other plant and animal evolved on that planet) will die because the Human engineers will be changing conditions far faster than the native creatures could evolve to meet the changing conditions and match the new environment.

Some of the things the Planetary engineers could be doing could be altering the insolation of the planet, using orbiting mirrors or sunshades. They certainly will want to adjust the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and bioengineered plants could be injected into the planetary ecosystem to do just that. Since something like 70% of the Earth's atmosphere is created by photosynthesis in the oceans, the injection of genetically engineered plankton is the way to go.

Even greater changes can be made by using the local asteroids to do flybys of the planet to provide gravitational torque. Altering the planet's orbit and rotational period will disrupt the local climate and all the rhythms that local life has adapted to over the eons. This might also destabilize the tectonic plates and cause massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

If the technology is sufficiently advanced, then even stranger things can be done. SF author Paul McAuley has used technologies like "entangled gravitons" to increase the gravity on small bodies, and Will McCarthy has postulated artificial atoms and matter hacking (including a novel where the Moon is crushed by degenerate matter into a dense enough sphere to have Earth like gravity). It is a bit doubtful that ants, no matter how advanced, would have a counter to something like that.

Now of course this means that it is not just the ants that will die, but all the life forms on the planet. It isn't clear from the OP's question what advantages the Planetary engineers see from keeping the other life forms (at best you will mostly get massive allergic reactions to the alien proteins, if not being outright poisoned), and a culture capable of interstellar travel might not even be interested in planets per se (asteroid belts and cometary halos provide everything you need with much less effort and expense). So terraforming is really the ultimate form of xenocidal warfare possible, and the engineers never have to place boots on the ground until they are done.

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Ant behavior is completely controlled by chemical triggers, left by other ants in the colony. The humans might engineer ersatz pheromones that would cause mass disruption of an ant hill. Perhaps they all follow a trail into lake, or the mouth of a predator. The Queen would be abandoned and die.

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The most viable alternative seem to be some sort of chemical or biological warfare. While intelligent, these ants aren't technological, so they can't filter the atmosphere in their anthills.

Another possibility is to try and rob them of their one great advantage, that of group consciousness. Since this is an evolved trait, it's probably based on either sound waves (low cost, reasonable bandwidth), or pheromones (high cost, low bandwidth), or electromagnetic waves (high cost, low efficiency). All three can be disrupted from above with the appropriate equipment; the ants can't fly, so you can hover over an anthill, bombard it with e.g. ultrasound and make the collective mind fragment, then open up with flamethrowers.

John Ringo in Black Tide Rising introduces the Subedei bot, a machine designed to entice mindless enemy individuals and terminate them in a sturdy, foolproof package. It is very likely that once their overmind gets disrupted, the individual ants revert to some earlier evolutionary reflex such as mindlessly swarming an enemy by the shortest possible route. So a combination hypersonic emitter plus ant grinder would be a comparatively cheap way to destroy the ants: any group entering the sonic field reverts to aggressive fireant swarm, the swarm "attacks" the grinder and gets mashed.

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How about an electrical based assault?

Assuming these ants have similar nervous-systems to Earth-like lifeforms, a big enough electrical surge might just do the trick in exterminating them.

There are a few ways of going about this:

The first involves large Tesla-Coils; they are pretty cost effective (compared to terraforming anyway) and can be readily deployed from the air/activated remotely. Powered by industrial motors and heavy-duty friction bands, it is not uncommon for modern units to arc out over a million volts at a time.

Thanks to the ants needing to be in contact with one another for their system to work, the current will be passed through many thousands of the critters on it's path to the ground, destroying their vital physical connections hence rendering the overall organism severely weakened if not disabled entirely.

By enclosing each electrical unit within a ductile metal cage (which can easily electrified) any rogue ants tasked with destroying the devices will be fried on contact. A large enough water moat might work just as well, provided the ants clusters are separate from the main group, but even if they are not, by installing a dispersion field, such as poking many thin conductive rods out of the water, will help in breaking up their formation.

Note: Tesla coils throw arcs out in any direction grounded (earthed) objects are present, meaning they could also damage terraforming equipment if not placed correctly. Wetting the ant targets in someway will help in establishing the desired electrical-arc direction.

The second idea is an extension of the last: use an electrified body of water to disable the ants.

From what you've said, these ants have evolved to live atop flood waters in a way - I guess - that is similar to ants on earth. This makes them easily able to pass any water barrier placed in their way. Providing then that the ants are in contact with the waters surface during such an event, by electrifying the water through hight output AC generators, an electrical current can be passed through the water and into the ant structure. Such would mean that the longer the ants remain in contact with the water medium they more ants will be electrocuted and with less ants the structure will eventually fail and break apart.

By using moats or other such means of water catchments to surround the generators and your terraforming equipment, the ants will have a much harder time getting through. Powerful electrified water jets (like a mega-firehose sort of thing) can then also be used in conjunction to hit/disperse targets close to the moats edge or nearer to the generators, breaking them apart quicker.

In both scenarios it is important to note that providing a strong and steady electrical current will be imperative to the systems overall success. Ants are also very "robust" creatures in the sense that they are strong and have a natural resistance to small electrical currents, so the bigger charge the better!

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So from what I see from the links TrEs-2b has given us. It seems that the ants are really really really tiny and linked together to form a bigger organism.

Get a real big heavy duty Taser

Its made of ants, its connected. Which means that if we started electrifying them, ants would start getting fried left and right. If they don't die for whatever reason, they should at least be stunned. If this works, those pesky ant hills will be shocked and immobilized or better dead. Just keep the batteries running. Which leads to...

Anti-Corrosion Shock Cage/Box

With all that advanced technology, I'm sure someone can come up with a metal cage or box with electric fences inside that would prevent the creatures from escaping or something. Now just a few million more to go and you have a hopeful alien-ant free planet.

Get their natural predators to help you

This only works if the ants are not apex predators, in this case the humans have to breed an army of starving anteaters. They shall hopefully devour the enemy while their human masters distract the ant hills with their highly ineffective bullets and missiles. This will not wipe out the ant hills but could give the humans space to terraform the planet. Humans have done this before where they parachuted cats into (borneo)? So that the local rat population would decrease. Now just parachute a few million anteaters across the planet and hopefully the anthills shall suffer.

Luring them out of the important areas like forests and then burning with napalm

I don't see why luring those ant hills out to won't work. They supposedly hate humans, which would compel them to chase after the occasional human bait. Now just lure them to an area where killing them won't do too much damage and start the barbeque with Napalm, even if the ants split and turn tail, as long as they have been hit by napalm, they should die due to the 'sticky' effect of napalm(provided they burn). Now hopefully their brethren have been informed by pheromones that they have been attacked and will hopefully be enraged and start charging at the human forces. As long as the humans stay safe, out of range and have plenty of napalm to go around, I don't see how the humans would lose. Even if a few ants got away, I highly doubt they alone can create a new ant hill and would most likely join an existing ant hill. This operation could take years with plenty of potential for mistakes but on paper should allow the humans to push back the ant hill horde.

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How do we get rid of ants today - chemicals. We spray them, bait them, fool them into taking poison back to the colony.

Combating something this large and organized would just mean more chemical and a smarter way of administering it. Terraforming stations should be equipped with spray foamers and moats containing poison.

Traps should be laid all over a region slated for terraforming, well in advance of a human party. Traps would be food laced with poison that is slow acting and capable of decimating an entire colony, including the queen.

Every thing a human wears, while in country, should be coated in the poison. Every human should be wearing a "fog-suit", with a bio monitor. When the heart stops the suit fogs.

In short, poison them into submission. They'll either go away or die.

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You asked for answers other than chemical, and I assume that you mean pheremones.

The only answer I see here is fire then, attack the hordes with leagues of fire.

The ant cells, fire

The ant-hills fire

You get the point, if you want to defeat this type of species without destroying the planet (nukes) then fire is the best solution.

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  • $\begingroup$ While technically not chemicals, still not what I was looking for $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Aug 29 '16 at 23:56
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(This is based on a collective consciousness that wishes to protect the majority of the ants of the colony.)

Since Ants have a tendency to release pheromones to signal that something is happening to them, it might be best to build up a distress signal for ants made up of ants being continually tortured a la Rick and Morty. They will send out a massive stream of "Oh God It Hurts Please Help Me Bro." pheromones. From there the area where the captive ants are being held will continually become stronger and larger leading up to a point wherein if the captive ants reach a point of numbers reaching higher than 50% there will likely be an impossibly large rescue mission, so there must always be less than 50% of the ants pheromones released at any time, so the pheromones released would have a set cutoff, the delivery of these pheromones would be through an aerial delivery, a line of these, "OGIHPHMB" pheromones which would lure more ants into these pheromone producers, via a rescue mission. Now, the "OGIHPHMB" pheromone wouldn't be the only one being produced, technically with some dissection and study, one could learn to produce whatever pheromone required for the ants to have some miscommunication travel through.

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The ants are small? no problem; out-small them. Crop-dust them with nanotech bots that rewires their brains so they take orders from humans. Then send the controlled ants out to either nanotech infect 'wild' ants or just fight them. The controlled ants are now the perfect slave race for human protection and terraforming.

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When dealing with a collective consciousness of any type the best weapon is logic. Think of those ancient Star Trek episodes where Spock presents a paradoxical conundrum to a computer about its behavior and it bricks (after a lot of rattling and smoking).

You could do the same to the ants, we're assuming they can communicate and that they're either following the edicts of their queen or some sort of ruling council or quorum. So what argument can you present to the collective consciousness that would show that it needs to stop attacking the terraformers because they are providing something that would help the ant-hill thrive - even while they have some sort of imperative to attack the terraformers. "Must attack humans, but humans give us "x" with the terraforming, must have "X", but must attack humans...." Eventually the ant-hills break down and become just a bunch of regular ants which are good for the terraforming process.

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