Some scientists consider ants to be a superorganism, meaning that the whole colony can be seen as one organism with the queen being the reproductive organ and the individual ants are other organs that fulfill different functions.
With workers in ant colonies being sterile, one must ask whether they are individuals, or merely an extension of the queen? In ants, bees and wasps this is further confounded by their confusing system of sex determination. This is called haplodiploidy, when males develop from unfertilised eggs and females—which include all the workers—develop from fertilised eggs. Their caste status is also unusual: a female can be made into a queen if she is fed a special diet (royal jelly in bees). Or, if the queen’s pheromones wear off, a worker may start to make her own eggs, which then become males.
Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr
Tissue Culture & Art Project
SymbioticA, The Centre for Excellence in Biological Arts
School of Human Sciences + School of Design
The University of Western Australia