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Farmer ants

From Seaside and Wayside

AntsYou have probably heard that some ants keep a herd of aphid insects to milk, like people keep cows to milk. But did you know that there are farmer ants who raise grain to eat? This ant lives in warm lands in Texas and Florida. The grain they grow is a kind of grass with a large seed. It is sometimes called "ant-rice."

The farmer ant's hill, or disk, is sometimes flat and sometimes high. It is often the size of a large room. It is in the shape of a circle.

In this circle all weeds and all kinds of grasses are cut down by the ants, except for the one kind which the ants like. The soil of the disk is kept clean and smooth. Only the seeds of the ant-rice are left to grow. After the seeds have fallen, the ants cut down the old stems, and take them away. The disk is then clean for the next crop.
When the ant-rice is ripe, the ants pick up the seeds as they fall, and take them into the hill to their storerooms to husk and clean them. They throw the bad seeds away. After it rains the ants carry the seeds out to dry in the sun. If the ant-rice is left wet, it would sprout and grow. Some ants also cut the seed, so that it will not sprout.

How does the ant eat the hard grain? Its tongue is like a file. The ant can rasp, file and press the grain, so it can get at and lick up the oil and juice.

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Proverbs 6:6-8