Leaf Cutter Ants are major agricultural pests. They strip leaves from crops, that is why they are called this. After it uses its' mandibles to cut a piece of leaf from a branch, it will carry the fragment to its colony's nest. An ant lives in what is called a colony. A colony is the whole group of ants in an anthill. Just like most other ants, the Leaf-Cutter lives in an anthill. Also, it has a queen, and workers.
Ants are insects that live in organized communities. An ant colony could have over a million members! Ants eat mostly leaves and shrubs. Their diet varies to what is available to them. They belong to the fungus growers group. Fungus growers live only in North and South America, and they are most plentiful in the Tropical areas. Perhaps the best-known and most interesting are the Leaf-Cutter Ants. They build huge underground nests, in which millions of ants may live in. At night, columns of workers leave the nest in search of food. They carry leaf segments back to the nest, holding them above their heads.
These kinds of ants cultivate gardens with their nests. They raise various kinds of mold or yeast-like fungi. After a leaf fragment is cut and carried to the nest, the piece of leaf will be used to fertilize a garden of fungi. Inside the nest, the ants chew the leaves into a pulp in which, they place on the fungus garden. This fungi produces tiny, nourishing knobs, which the ants eat. The ants fertilize their gardens with leaves, flower petals, and other plant materials.
In Brazil, colonies of Leaf-Cutter Ants sometimes strip the leaves from an orange grove in just one night! They can also be called parasol ants or umbrella ants due to the way they carry their leaf fragments to the nest. Although Leaf-Cutter Ants are pests (their name says it all!) they are quite fascinating to learn about.
Amazing Interview | Amazon River |Anaconda | Animals | Bibliography | Birds | Bulletin Board | Conservation| Dictionary | Did You Know | Dolphins | Flowers | Guest Book |Home Page | Insects |Internet Links| Leaf-Cutter Ants | Macaw | Mammals | Other |People History | People Today | Piranha | Plants | Reptiles and Amphibians | Shaman | Tree Frog |Trees|