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An ant goes into a bar with his buddies; they all drink and fall over. Which side do they keep falling over on?

A drunken ant will always fall over onto its right side: myth or fact?

Discover the behavior of drunken ants. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Discover the behavior of drunken ants.

Hey, did you hear the one about how an intoxicated ant will always fall over on its right side? Man, is that ever fascinating! What an awesome factoid!

However, it's probably not true.

It's hard to say for sure, but only because there is not a lot of scientific research on the behavior of drunken ants.

Now, if you're the hands-on type, you could grab a case of beer and head down to the ant hill to crack some brews with your insect pals. Maybe you can even get a government research grant out of it. Just remember to bring a notebook and be careful when you're high-fiving them.

In the meantime, the rest of us probably will have to get by with the reports of one Sir John Lubbock. In 19th century England, Lubbock was a successful banker, a statesman, and perhaps most famously, a gentleman scholar. He was noted for his books on diverse topics, including archeology and entomology -- the study of insects.

And, as luck would have it, one of Lubbock's experiments was to get ants drunk and see what they did.

In 1877, Lubbock wrote about the results in a journal article, which later appeared in modified form in his book called Ants, Bees and Wasps:

This was a rather more difficult experiment. No ant would voluntarily degrade herself by getting drunk, and it was not easy in all cases to hit off the requisite degree of this compulsory intoxication. In all cases they were made quite drunk, so that they lay helplessly on their backs. The sober ants seemed much puzzled at finding their friends in this helpless and discreditable condition. They took them up and carried them about for a while in a sort of aimless way, as if they did not know what to do with their drunkards, any more than we do.

Now, some people might think that a devoted naturalist like Sir John Lubbock would definitely take note if all of the drunken ants were tilting to the right. But if you're the skeptical type, you can always try it out yourself.

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