Ants and Their Garden

Ants and Their Garden

The Ants and Their Garden information graphic is used as outreach material by myrmecologists (ant experts) at the Smithsonian Institution. It was developed to show in a snapshot the complex social system of leafcutter ants and their process of cultivating plant matter to maintain fungus garden that feeds the entire colony. The different steps in this image illustrate how leafcutter ants harvest the leaf fragments, carry them into the nest and then plant them to grow the fungus gardens spread across the many chambers of the nest. The continuity of the colony is maintained by the queen, the only reproductive individual, and the many workers that tend to the brood.

The graphic was published in the American Scientist magazine, a publication of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society. It was also selected to be part of the exhibit “Visualize: Art Revealing Science” that took place at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Art Gallery. See the interview video produced by AAAS about the exhibit where I discuss the making-of of this piece.

Media: mixed media – acrylic painted polymer clay, acrylic over foam board, digital
Client: AntLab at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum; American Scientist magazine