Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Ants Behave as Mini Farmers in Fiji

By Garry Rogers @Garry_Rogers

GR:  We just discovered something about ants that has gone on for millions of years.

“Ants found in the Pacific islands of Fiji behave as miniature farmers, carefully sowing and fertilising the seeds of at least six types of plant, a study has said.

“Ants have previously been observed farming fungi for food, but this is the first study to show the insects cultivating plants, said researchers from the University of Munich who published their findings in the journal Nature Plants.

Ants behave as mini farmers in Fiji
A Squamelaria “field” in a Macaranga tree. Planted and maintained by a colony of Philidris nagasau ants (photo:  Guillaume Chomicki).

“The ant, known as Philidris nagasau, gathers seeds from the fruit of six different types of Squamellaria plant, then nestles them in cracks it finds in trees. They regularly visit the growing seedlings, which form hollow chambers inside the trees. As they expand, the chambers in turn offer nesting space and protection for ant colonies.

“The ants and plants are interdependent and one cannot survive without the other,” said the statement.

“Reconstructing the evolutionary history of the insects and their crops, the authors concluded the relationship stretches back about three million years – long before modern humans, history’s most prolific farmers, even existed.” –Agence France-Presse (Source: Ants behave as mini farmers in Fiji – study)

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