One fine evening on the Cape as we were driving back to our rental after a long and satisfying day, we were debating whether or not the youngest, stickiest member of our family should take a bath or simply have the worst of the sand and sticky stuff rinsed off before traipsing off to bed.
My daughter, clearly looking for models from the animal kingdom to support her argument that a slight coating of sand and dried ice cream is not immediately fatal to those lucky enough to wear it, asked, “Do ants take baths?”
Do ants take baths?
Unfortunately for my daughter, it turns out they do. At least we think they do. In the interest of full disclosure, the sourcing for this answer is particularly weak. My Google search on my iPhone muscled up lots of instances of ants marching in attack formation on bathrooms, but only one document that actually discussed the issue in question: the instructions for the Uncle Milton Ant Farm, which includes a Q&A at the end on ant behavior.
According to it, ants clean themselves by rubbing their faces with their legs. This is admittedly thin stuff, but once I mentioned how similar that sounded to our own cat’s face-washing regime, my daughter was sold on the concept of taking a bath. And then it was just a matter of convincing her that water was in fact integral to the bathing process for humans, even if ants and cats often didn’t use it.