Leafcutter ants can strip as much as 17% of the leaf biomass from plants in their biological system and can strip whole trees of their leaves in less than a day. Close to our own, leafcutter insect society is the most perplexing society on earth. They fabricate homes that can contain a great many rooms and conceal to 0.5 km2, an accomplishment that is important since an adult settlement can contain in excess of 8,000,000 leafcutter ants.
So today the colonies of these interesting little creatures is the main curx of this article, without further ado, let’s get right into it
Adult ants don’t usually feed on the fungus, but rather get their nutrients from leaf sap saving the fungus for the larvae. But they do however eat the fungus as well if need be, it’s just that the fungus is prioritised to be served to the larvae. Young Adult Leaf Cutter ants of the colony also often climb on top of the leaves that are being transported back to the colony by the mature ants. This is not only to get a piggy back ride but also to protect the mature insects from attacks and keep an eye on the condition of the leaf
There is a castes division between the leafcutter society, with each cast specialising in conducting different activities and taking different responsibilities of the trade
Some of the devisison of casts go as follows
Now, lets move on to discussing each and every roles that these different castes take place
Queens as you might guess from the name is without a doubt the most important personality in the whole nest. They are the ones that can bear eggs and actually produce children. She is oftentimes bigger in size then the ants taking care of her and sometimes big enough to the size of a soldier
Queens go on to produce more queens and male heirs who then go on to mate. Mostly the newly born queens go on to form their own colonies and a colony usually only has only one queen meaning that all of the residents of a colony are usually related in one way ora nother.
An interesting point to note at this point is that queens despite the title do not order its subordinates around. The ants born in different casts already know how to proceed with the work that they are naturally bound to carry out.
These are the largest Ants in the colony: They usually act like soldiers just as the name suggests and take care of most of the heavy lifting that is needed. Moreover, they also guard the nest and the clear out any disturbances that are taking place in the neighbourhood.
These majors also otherwise referred to as soldiers usually possess stronger jaws than the other castes and don’t budge to give their lives when it comes to protecting the colonies.
These are basically generalists and are smaller in size than majors ( they are also known as foragers ), they take part majorly in transportation and cutting of the leaves for the farming process.
The main part of these ants’ job includes is to explore the area near the nest and look for leaves that can be used for farming purposes. When one of these ants actually do find some good leaves, it returns to the nest first to take more of its colleagues to the site where it saw the actual leaf. This is doen in ways of making trails of chemicals and marking the place where it finds the good leaves so that tracking it along with the colleagues is an easy job to proceed
Young foragers ants of the colony also often climb on top of the leaves that are being transported back to the colony by the mature ants. This is not only to get a piggy back ride but also to protect the mature insects from attacks and keep an eye on the condition of the leaf
These are protectors of the food and take care of it when it arrives the colony
A leafcutter colony produces quite a lot of trash and waste that it needs to get rid of. Trash usually includes things like dead ants, bad mold, and gross leaves that has been built up in the colony for a while and needs to be removed to keep the colony safe from any kind of diseases that they might end up catching
Catching these diseases means death and ants and in extreame cases can even mean the death of the whole colony in case the disease is dangerous as well as contagious for the ants.
The leaf cutter ants live very close together, so it is very easy for diseases to spread through a colony very quickly. Leafcutter excavators ( the engineers of the leafcutter ants colony) build chambers below the nest where the ants that deal with these trash can live in separation from the rest of the colony .
There are special trash handling workers that transport dead and dirty items to the garbage chambers. This work is very dangerous because the trash handling ants touch lots of different bacteria and mold that could infect and kill them.
The ants belonging to this cast work extensively inside the small homes that colony builds, these are the ones that also take care of the larvae as well as the fungus farms in the making. Moreover, there are also some Minms that are assigned the job of garbage collectors and that is what they do exclusively, an interesting fact to know about the ants that take on the job of the garbage collectors is that after they take on the duties of the garbage collectors, they will then never interact with the the fungus or the queen for the sake of preventing diseases from passing on which they might have contracted whilst doing their jobs
These are basically the architects and engineers of the leafcutter ants’ colony, they usually make every structure that is inside the est like rooms and chambers like the chambers for the Minims. Moreover, they are the ones that work on expansion of the nest’s territories and expand the chambers when need be
Hopefully, this article was informative, and gave you some interesting insight about Leaf Cutter ants as well as they go on with their unique farming practices. If you have any further related questions feel free to use the comment section below. Moreover, if you want to know an answer to whether insects seek and take revenge, we have a great article written on just that, you can give that a look “here“. And if you want to go through some interesting facts about insects, natgeokids has a great article written on that, you can give that a look “here“