Ant Agriculture

Paul Fetters for the Smithsonian Institution
April 11, 2017
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Curator wearing miner's light holding box of specimens
Paul Fetters for the Smithsonian Institution

Ted Schultz is the curator of ants at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He studies ants that began farming millions of years before the evolution of humans. “These higher agricultural-ant societies have been practicing sustainable, industrial-scale agriculture for millions of years,” Schultz said. “Studying their dynamics and how their relationships with their fungal partners have evolved may offer important lessons to inform our own challenges with our agricultural practices. Ants have established a form of agriculture that provides all the nourishment needed for their societies using a single crop that is resistant to disease, pests and droughts at a scale and level of efficiency that rivals human agriculture.”

Photo by Paul Fetters for the Smithsonian Institution