Philosophy Phriday: Plato’s Ants

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the ninth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Richard Polt.


On Formiciform Virtue: Plato’s Ants

As he imagines scenarios for the afterlife—which he’ll be entering within a few hours—Socrates speculates that if there’s reincarnation, those who have practiced “social virtue” should come back as members of “a social and orderly species” in their next life. Yes: they may be reborn as ants (Plato, Phaedo 82b).

Continue reading

Style Saturday: Rom-ant-tic Myrmecology Wear

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly ant fashion series, Style Saturdays. This third installment is by our Fashion Correspondant Kathryn Pogin, who is also an Executive Producer of our popular Philosophy Phridays series. Enjoy!


I realize some folks might have expected me to write a Coachella-themed entry this week, but given that I’d like my work as the Daily Ant’s Fashion Correspondant to represent genuine myrmecological style, rather than Urban Outfitters with a side of Burning Man, this week we’re going to look at a rom-ant-ic ensemble that’s versatile enough to take you from brunch to the ballroom.

Continue reading

Philosophy Phriday: Concerning Wittgenstein

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the eighth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Ben Roth.


Concerning Wittgenstein’s 284th Philosophical Investigation

“And now look at a wriggling [insect] and at once these difficulties vanish and pain seems able to get a foothold here, where before everything was, so to speak, too smooth for it.”

Continue reading

Invasive Plants Push Around Native Ants

Have you ever been stung by a fire ant? Even if you haven’t, you probably know how (supposedly) bad and evil fire ants are. Yet fire ants, and a couple other well-known invasive ant species like Argentine ants, are only a few out of about 13,000 known species of ants, and they give all of these other species a bad rap. So today, let’s look at a new study by co-first authors Kevin Li and Yifan He and colleagues that properly flips the script: invasive plants push around friendly native ants.

Elaeagnus_umbellata

The big bad shrub, Elaeagnus umbellata

Continue reading

Spiny Ants and Bacteria

As regular readers of The Daily Ant know already, ants harbor lots of bacteria. A growing number of studies are revealing that we should investigate these microbial communities, and their associations with their hosts, in order to fully understand the ecology and evolution of ants. In pursuit of this goal, Manuela Ramalho and colleagues just published an interesting study on the microbial composition of one of the coolest ant groups – Polyrhachis, the spiny ants.

Polyrhachis
Polyrhachis ant, with its microbial community. Photo: Melvyn Yeo

Continue reading

Style Saturday: A Kushner Ant-ternative

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly ant fashion series, Style Saturdays. This second installment is by our Fashion Correspondant Kathryn Pogin, who is also an Executive Producer of our popular Philosophy Phridays series. Enjoy!


If you’ve ever found yourself tasked with responsibilities beyond your skill set because your wealth, your family, or your social standing have catapulted you to a position of power you didn’t earn on your own merits, you’re probably not an ant. You might, though, empathize with Jared Kushner. Kushner found himself the subject of some couture-controversy this week after sporting a look that, in the words of Drew Magary, says “I’d like to make a war, but I’d also like a mint julep.”

vest7n-1-web

Continue reading

Philosophy Phriday: Ants in Your Pants

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the seventh contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Miriam Schoenfield.


Ants in your pants

Ants make great real estate decisions, and this is explained partially by the fact that their decisions are made by a group, rather than an individual. In some species of ants, when a move must occur, individual worker ants scout out a variety of nest sites, and when they find one that they like, they begin to recruit other ants to their chosen site. The more ants visit a site, the better for that site, and once a certain threshold of ant visitors is reached, the issue is settled and the new nest becomes home. This group decision-making process is very effective and explains why ants do so well at choosing new nests.

TurtleAnts

Turtle ants in their home. Photo: Alex Wild

Continue reading

When Ants and Lichens Combine

Lichens are not ants. But, fortunately for lichens, lichens are nearly as cool as ants. Imagine what would happen if ants and lichens joined forces!

If you don’t have a good imagination, then you’re in luck. Lichen Correspondant Joel Mercado-Díaz recently drew our attention to a couple beautiful ant-lichen photographs. With permission from the original photographer, National Geographic Explorer Matthew Cicanese, we are happy to present these two pictures for your enjoyment:

AntLichen2

AntLichen