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Teaching Resources

Ants: Social Insects and Farmers

STEM Subject

Ants as Social Insects and Farmers

National Middle School Science Standards

Life Science

Key Terms

ant, social insect, adaptation, eusocial, agriculture, phylogeny

Key Concepts

  • Social insect characteristics
  • How leaf-cutter ants do agriculture
  • Evolution of ant farming
  • What scientists learn from phylogeny
  • Parallels between ant and human farming


Resource Types


Associated Experts


Leaf-cutter ants (Cyphomyrmex wheeleri) tending a fungus garden. Photo by Ted Schultz, Smithsonian.Leaf-cutter ants (Cyphomyrmex wheeleri) tending a fungus garden. Photo by Ted Schultz, Smithsonian.
Webcast (video) and Podcast (audio) Shows
Printable Lessons
Online Activities
  • Q?rius Collections Explore social insects, digitized for investigation from your classroom or at home
Posters and Worksheets

The Ants as Social Insects and Farmers resources support students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations.

Life Science


From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
  • MS-LS1-4Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.


Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
  • MS-LS2-1Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.


Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
  • MS-LS4-2Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
  • MS-LS4-4Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals' probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.

All Q?rius Resources for These Standards

Dr. Ted Schultz collecting ants in the field. Photo by Ana Jesovnik, Smithsonian.
Ted Schultz
Research Entomologist and Curator of Hymenoptera
Close-up of Dan Babbitt in yellow shirt and black glasses holding a black goliath birdeater tarantula in his left palm.
Dan Babbitt
Former Manager of the O. Orkin Insect Zoo

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