Smithsonian Institution brings ant antics to Gastonia

February 14, 2014 by  

‘Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants’ is currently on display at the Schiele Museum of Natural History here in Gastonia. Formerly, the exhibit was featured in Washington, D.C., at the National Museum of Natural History.

‘Ants’ is one of the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibits. Seven museums in North Carolina, including the Schiele Museum, are Smithsonian affiliates, but Gastonia is the only stop the exhibit makes in North Carolina.

The ant exhibit includes a bronze leafcutter ant 50 times its natural size, live ants, and casts of different ant species’ nests. Additionally, there are no fewer than 40 macro photos of ants taken by renowned entomologist/photographer Mark Moffett.

Often, museums partner with a printing company to provide postcard printing relevant to a special exhibit. These postcards become mementos for attendees and educational tools for children who have attended.

According to Dawn Flynn, the entomology adjunct curator at Schiele, ants are not simply the pests most people consider them to be. They aid in weed control by eating the seeds of unwanted plants. They also aerate soil and eat caterpillars that feed on plants beneficial to humans. Moreover, the exhibit explains how ants help slow the spread of diseases by playing a part in the breakdown of decaying animals and plants.

The exhibit will remain in Gastonia through April 6, after which is will go on to the next stop on its 15-city tour