Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants

By Andrea image-2In the summer months we aim to keep them out of our homes. At picnics we do everything to avoid them. On the front patio stones the kids catch and examine them. We consider them a pest but is there more than meets the eye? Yes!

If you've ever watched ants at work you discover their behaviour, anatomy and purpose is more complex than we generally understand. This spark of interest is satisfied at the Canadian Museum of Nature's new visiting exhibition, Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants on loan from the Smithsonian.

museum of nature antsWhen the opportunity to preview and blog about a new feature at the CMN presented itself, I gladly accepted. Our membership allows us to foster our children's education and this exhibit is a compliment to junior elementary science curriculum where insects are studied.

When you enter the gallery you notice the large, colourful photos of magnified ants. Through the eyes of a child, this is what macro photography was meant for: seeing bugs up close and in detail. Mark W. Moffet, an award-winning photographer for National Geographic, lends 39 large-sized photos of ants which capture their behaviour, their roles in their ant-heap and their habitat.

imageIn addition to the images there are two aquarium-like encasements at a child's eye-level allowing them to observe ant colonies at work. My children were especially interested in the honeypot ants but also intrigued by having poisonous ants carry seeds to feed their young beneath their fingertips. An effective visual was the casting of an ant colony's underground habitat. When you consider that we only see the small hill of dirt and a hole, it opens their eyes to a whole new underground world!

image-3The exhibition opened July 26th and runs until January 5, 2014. It can be found to the left of the stairs behind the main desk at the front entrance. The cost of admission and/or membership includes access to this exhibit as well as several fun activities held throughout the summer. The following activities are for visitors of all ages and run until September 2nd.


  • Daily at 10AM, 11AM, 2PM and 3PM




  • Saturdays and Sundays, 9:30AM – noon


Daily 11AM - 2PM


  • Irena Lyubchenko, August 19 - 23, 1PM - 4PM
  • Dinorah Catzalco, August 26 - 30, 1PM - 4PM

I found this exhibit to be accessible, appealing and informative to my three children of different ages. Enjoy your visit!

Andrea is a happily married stay-at-home mother of three amazing children who loves her friends, family, art, music and takes too many photographs. She blogs here.