SAVE Insects are one of the most diverse groups of animals in the world.
However, one of the most incredible rainforest animals of all is very small. Leafcutter ants eat more rainforest vegetation than any other type of animal.
Not only that, they actually grow their own food, and live in colonies that can contain over eight million insects! Leafcutter Ant Information Leafcutter ants live in huge colonies on the forest floor.
Their colonies are very complex, and every ant has a specialised role to play within the colony. Leafcutter ants vary in size and appearance depending on their role within the colony. These physical differences are so large that it is hard to believe that ants in the same colony are actually the same species!
Some ants are large; some are small; some have wings; and some have big mandibles teeth! Leafcutter ants are often seen in lines, bringing pieces of leaves back to the nest.
This fungus provides food for the colony. Leafcutter Ants — Scientific Stuff There are 47 species of leafcutter ants. All leafcutter ants are in the Myrmicinae subfamily of the main ant family, Formicidae.
Within the Myrmicinae subfamily, there are two main groups, or genera, of leafcutter ants: Description Leafcutter ants are fairly large ants, and are a reddish-brown colour.
They have small spines on their backs. The head is where the mouth and sensory organs are found, the thorax is where the legs and wings are joined to, and the abdomen houses the digestive and reproductive organs.
Leafcutter ants have two long antennae, and five eyes: They are also found in North America: Mexico and some southern US states have leafcutter ant populations. Leafcutter ants play an important part in the rainforest ecosystem, and are responsible for eating incredible amounts of rainforest vegetation.
This has a big effect on the rainforest ecosystem. It is thought that the ants improve the richness of the soil, and, by removing leaves from the trees, allow sunlight to reach the lower levels of the forest.
Leafcutter Ant Colony Facts Leafcutter ant workers collecting leaves Leafcutter ant social structure is extremely complex. There can be over one million ants in a single colony!
Leafcutter ant nests are complex underground structures with multiple chambers and passages. Nests can be from 30m2 to 35m2 in area, and several metres deep, with up to 8, chambers and tunnels 70m long, depending on the species. Each ant has a role to play within the colony, and their size and physical appearance reflects what their job is within the colony.
Minims mainly work inside the nest, tending to the fungus and ant larvae. Mediae carry heavier loads back to the nest. Majors provide additional security when the nest is threatened. Some species of leafcutter ants remove waste material from the nest and take it to special areas, others have chambers within the nest to store waste.
When carrying loads back to the nest, minors are susceptible to attack from phorid flies.
These flies are parasitic, and lay eggs on the heads of the ants. The video below has some great views of leafcutter ants at work! Growing Food Once the leaves are brought in to the nest, the ants turn them into food for the fungus garden.
This process involves removing the waxy outer layer of the leaves then chewing them up. The food is then taken to the fungus garden.Leafcutter ants, a non-generic name, are any of 47 species of leaf-chewing ants belonging to the two genera Atta and Acromyrmex.
These species of tropical, fungus-growing ants are all endemic to South and Central America, Mexico, and parts of the southern United States.
Leaf-cutter ants (of the genera Atta and Acromyrmex) are prevalent, as are the ubiquitous small black flies known as piums in Brazil. Fireflies, stinging bees, hornets, wasps, beetles, cockroaches, cicadas,. Nov 04, · Bringing the ant farm and love of ant keeping to a whole new level, we are dedicated to show the world the joys of keeping big and healthy pet ant colonies.
Leaf cutter ants, live the ant dream!
The summum of professional ant keeping hobby. This ant species is to observe all over the world in zoos, big animal shops and musea. Tiny but mighty, the Leaf Cutter Ant makes heavy lifting look like child’s play!
Amazing Facts About the Leaf Cutter Ant There are about 40 species of leafcutter ant in the world. Leafcutter ants feed on fungus within their nests.
Each species consume a different species of fungus, tending the fungi with grass, and leaf clippings. These fungi secrete warning chemicals when an ant introduces a leaf to the nest that is toxic.