Ant Farmers

Average reading time is about 5 and a half minutes
AN AMAZING FACT:  Perhaps you have heard of the famous parasol (or “leafcutter”) ants that make gardens and raise their own crops. These amazing creatures are called “parasol” ants because they are often seen walking in processions, each one holding a piece of green leaf above its head! These bits of green leaf are not for food, but are taken to their nests and made into a compost soil. These ants are actually farmers. They deliberately sow, prune, fertilize, weed, harvest, and store a fungus crop as carefully as any gardener tends his vegetables.

There are ants living in Texas that clear a “field” of 1 or 2 square yards and then plant rice. They lay out the rice in beds with pathways running among the plants and keep their rice fields carefully weeded. When the rice seeds ripen the ants harvest them, remove the husks, and store the kernels for food. Later the ants with very large jaws crack the seeds and crush the kernels into meal for the rest of the ants. If the rice gets damp and is in danger of spoiling, certain ants have the sole responsibility of carrying the damp grain out into the sunshine for drying.

Another species of Mediterranean ant goes even further in producing its food from farmed seeds. These ants carefully take dried seeds out in the rain until they start to sprout. At that point, they kill the sprout and dry the seeds in the sunshine again. When the seeds are dry, the ants take them down into the kitchen where workers crush and chew them into a dough-like substance. They form the dough into cookie-shaped patties and then take the patties back out to bake in the sun. When the ant biscuits are baked, the ants store them in the nest again.

No wonder Solomon wrote, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). The same God who enables the tiny ant to prepare for its needs also gave us the intelligence to prepare for ours.

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; Proverbs 30:25

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