Ants have been resorting to farming for sustenance for fifty million years now. Humans have been farming for ten thousand years, so that should give you some perspective. However, there is one particular species of ant that has only been farming for three million years, and their nest-building methods differ radically from that of other ants, and all insects for that matter.
Philidris nagasau is an interesting species of ant, as it not only farms for sustenance, but these ants are also able to grow their own homes. This type of Fijian ant starts building its home by collecting seeds from plants that serve as temporary shelter. The ants then take the collected seeds and deposit them into the little cracks and crevices located on the bark from trees. The ants then help to nurture the plants by defecating into the hollow stems of the emerging plants. The ants are forced to stand guard duty constantly to stay on the lookout for any herbivores looking to destroy the carefully constructed homes of these ants. The plants eventually grow little compartments that accommodate ants. The plants also excrete nectar constantly, even after pollination.
This type of ant is unique in that its continued existence depends on resources from the plants that the ants create. In fact, this type of Fijian ant has lost the ability to build nests in the same way that other ants build nests. This ant is truly a one of a kind specimen due to its symbiotic existence with the plants.
Are there any other animals that live symbiotically with another organism?