It is a difficult matter for ants to dream. The mental processing required takes up the majority of their small bodies, overflowing outward from tangled nerves into the strange oozes that fill their abdomens. Even these, the most social creatures on the planet, sometimes desire to be alone within their own minds.
Though they do not know it, all of their dreams are exactly the same. Each ant imagines a single, perfect crystal of sugar using all of the creativity that their subconscious mind can muster. They then clutch it in their mandibles, dissolve it with imaginary acids, and savor the resultant solution. As they drink, they find it to be more delicious than any other substance they’ve ever consumed- it contains an alien sweetness that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. For the ant, this inner bacchanal lasts for several minutes, yet for an outside observer, the process takes less than a second.
Despite the seemingly uncharacteristic nature of it, this behavior is ubiquitous across species of ants. Some colonies even have designated “dreamer ants” within their caste system which can slumber for weeks on end. The consumption of so much imaginary sugar seems to serve no practical purpose, yet they do so for half a month at a time, methodically and deliberately, all the while being fed by their comrades. This cycle is consistent, almost always composed of two weeks of constant labor, then two more interspersed with dreams.
There is meaning to this ritual, but it can only be interpreted on a much larger scale than that which can be seen by a single set of compound eyes. Hundreds of trillions of ants exist in the world, each of which manages at least one dream per day during the latter half of the cycle. This results in an unthinkable volume of dreamstuff being consumed. None of these ants grasp the magnitude of what is taking place, but they can sometimes feel, as a colony, that they are contributing to a work that is much greater than themselves.
This is because though they do not know it, all of the world’s ants dream together. Slowly, they take apart and devour something much larger than themselves, grain by grain by grain. It is no coincidence that their dreams always begin with the arrival of the full moon, and end when it can no longer be seen.