Leaf cutter ants


Leaf cutter ants are a fungus growing ants who lead a very fascinating and complex social system, thus  baffling Scientists. As the name suggests, they collect leaves. After which the ants cut the leaves and bring them back to their underground nests. There, the ants chew up the leaves into pulp. Afterwards, the pulp is then stored together with ant faeces, where a fungus develops on the rotting plant mush.

The leaf cutter ants then eat the fungus. An ant colony consists of millions of individuals and this is known as the most dominant invertebrate in Central and South America. These ant colonies consist of different classes known as castes which include the queen, workers, males and females which are capable of reproduction. Each one of these ants have a specific job to carry on depending on their size and castecheck out this site: leafcutterants.org It is strange but after mating.


the male dies and the queen loses her wings. She leaves the nest carrying a fungal part known as mycelium. She starts eating her own eggs until her fungus garden grows. The eggs from her first brood become adult ants and helps her to develop the fungal garden. Atta cephalotes is a common leaf cutting ant which are wingless. Soldier ants consist of the largest worker caste and they protect the ant colony. Males are bigger than the workers, whilst the queens are larger still. They go through a four life cycle stage and each is different from one another.


The four stages are egg, larval, pupae and adult. The relationship between the leaf cutter ant, fungus and bacteria is a great example of symbiosis. Each one depends on the other to thrive. The fungus cultivated is used to feed the ant larvae, and the adult ants feed on leaf sap. The fungus needs the ants to stay alive, and the larvae need the fungus to stay alive.