Philosophy Phriday: She’s a Man(t)eater

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 fourteenth contribution in the series, submitted by Amber Carlson.

She’s a Man(t)eater

What do Hall and Oates, anti-feminists, and myrmecologists have in common?

They’re each concerned with “maneaters.”

Hall and Oates are famous for their depiction of a woman who is beautiful, in control of her sexuality, but uses men for her financial benefit. “The beauty is there,” they say, but “money’s the matter” and so “if you’re in it for love, you ain’t gonna get too far.” But in addition to simply being a disappointing love interest for some, they liken her to a wild animal saying that “a beast is in her heart.” Any man interested in her must be warned. After all, “she’s deadly, man. She could really rip your world apart.” An empowering anthem for some women, but a fatal warning to men: “Watch out boy, she’ll chew you up,” they say. “She’s a maneater.”


Female ants surround a male. Hall & Oates say “Watch out!” Photo: Alex Wild

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Style Saturday: F-ant-astic Basics

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

If you want a look that’s classic and casual without going so far as blending in with the drapery, today’s Style Saturday is just the thing. The foundation of any good wardrobe is a set of fantastic basics — the pieces that last you from season to season, can be paired in a variety of ways, and work with accoutremants or stand on their own. After all, there’s no need to resort to accessorizing with (er, sorry, among) shrubbery when you can wear a look with its own integrity. So, set your antennae to colony-cool, and look for fashion (formicid or otherwise) that’s got the kind of character that will stand the test of time.

Case in point, an over-sized sweatshirt in quality fabric with clean lines has been in style at least since Flashdance. Relaxed fit jeans (here, in an updated cut) are a well-tested stand-by (it’s the kind of thing that lives in your closet as long as a queen can rule her colony). Pull the whole look together with classic shades, a fun phone cover, and comfortable shoes, keeping you light on your feet in case you need to a dodge a dreaded hug, while still communicating your love of all things myrmecology. If you’re so inclined, a red lip to top it off is always in style, too.

F-ant-astic Basics

Frame cut off jeans
$270 –

Slip on shoes

Iphone case

Prada sunglasses
$340 –

Oversized top

Philosophy Phriday: Human Nature, Ethics, and 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 thirteenth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. David Schwartz.

Human Nature, Ethics, and Ants

Human nature is a perennial topic of Western philosophy: What does it mean to be human? What distinguishes humans from other species, or from machines? The history of philosophy is filled with answers, the most famous being that humans are the political animal, the thinking animal, the self-conscious animal, the tool-making animal, the warring animal, and the linguistic animal. Of particular interest to my field, ethics and value, is the claim that humans are the ethical animal. That is, we are the only animal that has a sense of fairness and justice, can act altruistically, and that possesses the free will needed to choose moral duty over instinctual reaction.

While it has taken philosophers a long time to catch up, this way of thinking about humanity – that we are different in kind from all other species – began to crumble with the work of Charles Darwin. His idea of natural selection offered a plausible mechanism that confirmed the idea that species are not immutable ‘natural kinds’ but only temporal snapshots of an on-going developmental process.   This greatly upset many people because it implied that humans were not different in kind from all other species, the sole possessor of an immaterial mind. Rather, humans differ from other species only by degree of evolutionary development. So while only humans can do mathematics or write literature, this does not mean these abilities are super-natural or somehow transcendent of material processes. It does mean that understanding human nature now requires understanding our evolutionary history.


Charles is like, “yeah lol ur wrong. Sorrynotsorry”

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Style Saturdays SPECIAL EDITION: Nthilla

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly ant fashion series, Style Saturdays. This sixth installment is a special Mother’s Day edition! It was contributed by Pat Myers, Empress of The Washington Post Style Invitational. Enjoy!

The Amazing Nthilla

The Style Invitational, The Washington Post’s weekly humor/wordplay contest, draws witty, funny entrants from all over the English-speaking world, including the mother of The Daily Ant editor-in-chief. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard much lately from Judy Blanchard, but for a few years she was an Invitational phenom, “getting ink” 107 times.

And one of those times was for one of the “Invite’s” many neologism contests, in which you coin a new word. The 2011 contest asked entrants to take a real word, then move its first letter to the end – and define the result.

Could it have been her son’s passion for ants that prompted her to come up with “Nthilla: A grain of sand”? What a nifty joke in that short definition, evoking “nth,” for ultra-, as “to the nth degree”; “scintilla,” the tiniest amount; and the grains of sand that often form anthills.

Like the ant itself, it packs so much into a wondrous little package.

By the way, The Style Invitational still comes out every week; even if you don’t do contests, the results are always fun to read. See them here, and to get a weekly email with a link to each new contest and results, contact me at and I’ll happily add you to the list. And join the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook, and they’ll anagram your name.

PatMyersPat Myers has worked at The Washington Post since 1982 and reigned as Empress of the Style
for more than 13 years. While she confesses that she is not in love with ants, she does have a Formica countertop in her kitchen.

Philosophy Phriday: O Ant, Where Art Thou?

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 twelfth contribution in the series, submitted by Kevin Lande.

O Ant, Where Art Thou?

Do ants have any idea where they are and where home is at? When they go out into the world, do they grasp how far they have gone or what turns their path has taken? Desert ants (Cataglyphis) are able reliably to return to their homes, having left them in search of food. But the ability to reliably get back home does not imply that one has an idea, a mental representation or map, that specifies where in space home is located. Reflecting on why not helps us to get some purchase on a broader question: What sorts of abilities, or behaviors, indicate the presence of such mental representations? What abilities or behaviors indicate the presence of mind?

Huertas abandonadas VIII

Cataglyphis ant in search of home, maybe. Photo: José María Escolano

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Style Saturday: Brilli-ant Details

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

There’s been a bit of insantsitive fashion in the news this week — not more Kushner couture-controversy but a bit of an instagram blow-up. This week we’ll talk about how to stand out for the right reasons instead, with a cool color palette and some brilliant details. To be sure, there’s only so far myrmecological magic can take you — ant-themed accessories aren’t like fashion honey to be paired with just anything for a sweeter look (what am I, an apiologist?). Rather, it’s generally better to avoid wearable slurs all around. Be ostantatious, not offensive!

With that in mind, this week’s looks emphasizes complimentary coordination — greens, blues, and gold come together for a look that’s funky, formicid cool. Platform t-strap sandals take you to (not quite giraffe, but) new heights, while distressed jeans, and modern Grey Ant sunglasses keep the look dressed down. An arboreal ant clutch stands ready to hold any of your essantials you might need to keep close at hand.

Brilli-ant details

Philosophy Phriday: Giraffes Are Taller Than 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 eleventh contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. David Detmer.

Giraffes Are Taller Than Ants, and Other Observations

Giraffes are taller than ants. I claim to know this. Moreover, I maintain that “giraffes are taller than ants” is an objective truth. It accurately reports on one aspect of what the world, quite apart from human subjectivity, is really like, so that anyone who denies it–anyone who thinks that ants are as tall as, or taller than, giraffes–is simply mistaken, wrong, incorrect.


Geoff the Giraffe considers objective truths

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Different Dome, Better Home

Polydomy. It’s a thing. It’s a thing where a single ant colony occupies completely separate nesting chambers rather than a single nest site. Polydomy, in creating a more distributed nest structure, has been theorized to increase foraging efficiency and enhance acquisition of a more diverse set of resources. Yet, despite the prevalence of hypotheses and theoretical work relating to polydomy, little work to date has experimentally tested the impact of polydomy on foraging efficiency.


Temnothorax ants in their acorn home. Photo: Alex Wild

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