Psyche: A Journal of Entomology

Towards a New Understanding of “Agriculture” in Insects

Publishing date
15 Aug 2011
Submission deadline
15 Feb 2011

Lead Editor

1Faculty of Applied Science, University of Gloucestershire, Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham GL50 4AZ, UK

2Setor de Entomologia, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, Brazil

3Department of Computer Science, University of Ulster, NIBEC, Newtownabbey BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland

This issue is now closed for submissions.

Towards a New Understanding of “Agriculture” in Insects

This issue is now closed for submissions.


The dramatic parallels that exist between human and insect societies are well documented, and the evolution of agriculture is especially remarkable. Of particular note are the leafcutting ants, termites, and ambrosia beetles that farm a sustainable crop of mutualistic fungi for food, but many other examples exist. For example, ants of many species rear aphids for the honeydew they secrete. They protect them on the plant and herd them like cattle to safe refuges during the night. The Brazilian stingless bee, Schwarzula coccidophila, farms scale insects in a similar manner. However, agriculture, often defined as the production of food or other renewable resources through the process of cultivation (whether it is crops or livestock), can be interpreted more widely. Thus, insects that alter their environment to influence the availability of food or to produce nesting sites can be thought of as undertaking forms of agriculture, homologous to human activities. The formation of “Devil's Gardens”, monocultures of trees, by the action of the Amazonian ant Myrmelachista schumanni when cultivating their nesting sites is analogous to silviculture. Such examples of nonhuman agriculture are likely more common than usually recognised, and these might embrace nonsocial species, as well as the more widely reported social taxa.

We are interested in papers that explore a broader interpretation of agriculture in insects (and other invertebrates) as well as papers reporting novel findings or interpretations related to more established agricultural systems, such as the fungus growing ants. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • How important is sociality to the development of agriculture?
  • To what degree does domestication by insects involve genetic breeding of the `crop´ species?
  • Are there examples of domesticated species going `rogue´?
  • What strategies are used by `pests´ of agriculture?
  • What is the relation between agriculture and associated activities such as waste management, foraging dynamics, and distribution networks?

We particularly welcome novel findings or papers reinterpreting previously described behaviours. While we anticipate a strong element of descriptive natural history (and indeed such an approach is necessary for novel observations), this should be reinforced with quantitative insights wherever possible.

Before submission authors should carefully read over the journal's Author Guidelines, which are located at Prospective authors should submit an electronic copy of their complete manuscript through the journal Manuscript Tracking System at according to the following timetable:

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