Brian Fisher headshot

Three questions with Dr. Brian Fisher, Chair of the Academy's Department of Entomology.

Is your work dangerous?

Yes, when in the field, I do come face to face with potential dangers. There was an ant specimen on the highest mountain in Angola that had last been collected in 1905. When I returned recently, the military was limiting access to the area. They demanded papers, special police, and government permits. It was intense. So I decided to hitchhike on trucks and walked on foot the last 120 miles with a backpack and camera. But no food! Luckily, I encountered friendly people in remote communities. These places had been untouched by the changes in modern society over the last 40 years. At last, I reached the top of the mountain. While I collected many specimens, I never did find the original species of Angolan ant that inspired the entire journey.

How can I get rid of ants in my kitchen?

Don't. Collect them. Study them. Watch them and learn their ways. Drop a few cookie crumbs on the floor so you get a better sample.

How do ants communicate in an organized, complex colony?

They use chemicals called pheromones for words. Each ant species has ten to twenty "chemical words" that are like perfumes. They use these to talk among themselves. You cannot have an organized complex society without clear communications. Ants are no exception.

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Dr. Fisher on IBSS

Dr. Fisher on IBSS

Learn more about Dr. Fisher's research, publications, and current projects by visiting the research side of our website, home to the Academy's Institute for Science and Sustainability.

Entomology at the Academy

Entomology at the Academy

The Academy holds one of the four largest entomology collections in North America, containing approximately 10 million curated specimens representing all orders, nearly all families, and approximately 250,000 species of insects, myriapods, and arachnids. Meet the researchers, explore projects and expeditions, and more.