Gendered Ants

Hello and welcome to yet another week of deception and duplicity here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will ask a question that was posed by one J. Alsworth. This Alsworth person asked:

How can you tell an ant’s gender?

Obviously, the easiest way to determine an ant’s gender is simply to ask it. However, there are situations in which this simple solution is impossible, impractical, or impolitic. For example, you may not speak the same language as the ant, rendering the question incomprehensible; you may not be close enough with that particular ant to feel comfortable asking it personal questions, making the conversation difficult; or the ant may be a known liar, causing any answer to be unreliable. Hence the necessity for this question.

There are a few alternative techniques for determining the gender of an ant:

 

1. Scent

All ants give off pheromones, biologically-produced scents which exude from their bodies. Female ants give off different pheromones from male ants; if you train your nose, you can learn to distinguish the mahogany-scented fragrance of a lady ant from the more pungent, but also more refreshing, odour of turmeric found on male ants. If your nose is not up to this level of training, the same result can be achieved through taste, by licking the ants in question.

2. Colour

Although it is a matter of fine nuance, female ants look different than male ants. Female ants tend to shades of pink and purple, often with faint flower designs along their bodies. Male ants, on the other hand, shade to blues and greens, with lighter and darker patches reminiscent of camouflage clothing. If you get close enough, you will be able to see these differences in coloration.

3. Number of legs

If you are close enough to see the ant but not close enough to distinguish its colour or pattern, there is one final way to determine whether it is a female or male ant: count its legs. Female ants can often have upwards of a hundred legs; they grow a new one for every egg they lay. Male ants, on the other hand, rarely have more than three legs at any point in their lifespan.

All of this said, it is of course important to remember that an ant’s personal identity is sacred to that ant, and it is inappropriate to make assumptions about an ant’s self-image without first checking, politely, with that ant.

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Disclaimer: The above post contains some erroneous information. We do not recommend licking ants.

 

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