Ants behave as mini farmers in Fiji

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.

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)

Are all the ants as heavy as all the humans? – BBC News

GR.–Yes.  Ants weigh about as much as humans (who weigh as much as all other wild vertebrates combined).  The weight of ants was estimated some years ago, but the good thing about careful estimates is that they don’t change much over time.

“If we were to weigh all the ants in the world, they would weigh as much as all of the people,” said wildlife presenter Chris Packham recently in BBC Four’s The Wonder Of Animals: Ants. But is this statement true?

“This claim was originally made by Harvard University professor Edward O Wilson, and the German biologist Bert Hoelldobler, in their 1994 book Journey To The Ants.

“They based their estimate on an earlier one by British entomologist C B Williams, who once calculated that the number or insects alive on earth at a given moment was one million trillion.

“If, to take a conservative figure, one percent of this host is ants, their total population is ten thousand trillion,” wrote Wilson and Hoelldobler. “Individual workers weigh on average between 1 to 5 mg, according to the species. When combined, all ants in the world taken together weigh about as much as all human beings.”

Read more: Are all the ants as heavy as all the humans? – BBC News